April 19, 2009

Two Bright Shades of the Same Color

Her “good morning” lit up every one of their already joyful faces.

They’d come trundling in with their backpacks by ones and twosies, filing into the classroom and going directly to their wall spaces to put their lunches up, then sit down in their seats.

Watching them talk animatedly, she smiled.

Innocence could not be duplicated.

“Teacher, teacher, look!”

The words always preceded a marvel; a captivating accomplishment of either God or mankind that demanded full and undivided attention.

Bending a knee, taking a seat, walking over to them with her skirt swishing silently taking naturally feminine footsteps to make the conversation more sincere, she met every child at their level and brought them up to where they should be.

“Wow, look at that! You drew that? Did you have any help?”

Her eyes sparkled teasingly.

“Nope. I did it all by myself. Brandon, he’s my older brother…”

“I know Brandon. I met him, remember?”

“Oh yeah! Um…Brandon, uh, he helped hold the paper some while I drew it, but I didn’t trace it. I just drew it…all by myself.”

“It’s really pretty. I like the colors you chose. They remind me of Easter. Did you do Easter with your family on Sunday?”

She paused briefly to turn away for a moment.

“Good morning Michaela!”

No preschooler made it through the doorway unnoticed. Each was as much an individual as any adult, if not more.

“Yep. We hid eggs and Skyped Grandma. She’s in Iowa er…somewhere. See, here’s where I messed up on my paper. I didn’t mean to use purple but I did.”

The embarrassment was genuine.

“So I see. Great job, I like purple, it’s my favorite color!”

“Really? Thanks!”

“Now go find your seat and wait for the pledge.”

Through compassion and an unwavering firmness each year she fought sniffles and coughs, the occasional unreasonable side of parents who could be extremely demanding, and paying her bills.

Each year she fought to stay awake after several hours of inputting grades online with several hours left of work.

She fought her way through the snow early in order to make it in time to greet her pupils as they filed through the door all flushed bright red and bundled up tightly against the cold.

She fought the gossip in the break room.

She fought through any monotony, unpleasant or boring material, and she fought the random rampant bad attitude that fumbled its way into her classroom.

She fought with grace, with beautiful blue-green eyes, and a heart that was absolutely in love with each and every one of her students.

She craved that look in their eyes when they lit up with a sudden understanding the concepts.

Her creative side thrived as songs, posters, field trips, reading aloud, colors, the floor, the table, and each brightly colored child-sized chair all served as tools, outlets for them to learn.

The designer of the first in-flight, unmanned, military aircraft refueler jet.

A filmmaker.

The first person to invent a self-contained underwater breathing apparatus that created 90% recyclable oxygen for longer, deeper dives.

A computer scientist who built the first hard drive based off nano quantum mechanics.

Those and hundreds of others throughout her career grew up to become great things.

Her name was Anna. Some said she was the victim of down-syndrome.

Anna didn’t see it that way.

She had her own personality, her own sharp mind that was on fire with a will to learn just like every other student she wasn’t the same as.

She stood quietly on the outside edge of the playground watching the other children play. Their coordinated games of tag or hide and go seek were not familiar to her, but she was visibly focused and concentrated as she carefully studied their behavior.

After five minutes, which would have been an eternity to any of her peers, she dove into their world. Moments later she was jumping, sliding, laughing and yelling just all the rest of her class.

Maybe she was a little louder.

Not all of the children included her in their activities.

She might’ve tripped a few more times than the rest.

But nothing escaped the pen and hand of her teacher, sitting on a bench silently journaling the activities of the beautiful girl.

By studying the trend of her pupil throughout the year she’d noticed a retreating wait time before Anna played with the other children.

Anna began needing assistance with most simple tasks, but after patience, a healthy dose of frustration and her incredibly strong will, she was walking to the child-sized fountain and filling her own water bottle.

Then she used the restroom completely of her own accord, completing all the necessary tasks with no help.

Most of the time.

And every day as she played on the padded steps, spongy ground, underneath the sun and watchful eye of college interns, her teacher journaled, strategized learning plans and set goals.

Anna learned best through sign language and hands-on games that sent multiple learning sensations to her memory through sight, feel, smell, taste or joy.

So they did math in the gym.

Hula hoops taught Anna how to count to five.

The beanbags inside the hula hoops helped her get to twenty.

She signed she was hungry, she signed she was mad, she signed numbers, her letters, and dozens of words.

Her colors didn’t come to her easily, but when she realized how many places colors could be found in she ran throughout the room pointing out and signing yellow, pink, blue, green, grey,

black…but her most excited unintelligible squeals of happiness came when she found purple.

It was her teacher’s favorite color too.

by Guy 2

c 2009

No comments: