Straight Talk by Baker Kurrus, September 9, 2015

Last week I went to Washington Elementary.   Although the school has some empty seats, the classes are busy, and the staff appeared to be engaged.  The library is beautiful.  I saw a lot of students working hard.  Washington was a magnet school for many years.  It now is a much different place, with a number of empty seats.  I will talk more about all of that very soon.

I went to the Washington cafeteria and said hello to the students who were in line for lunch.  The students were in the P-3 pre-kindergarten program, which means they are three and four years old.  I met one very talkative young man.  I introduced myself and asked him his name.  He said, “I’m Spiderman!”  He laughed and pretended to spin some webs out of his wrists, as he made a great sound effect, “SSSSSTTTTTT!!   SSSSTTTT!”  I was captivated in more ways than one.  What a marvelous little guy!! He had a big smile, a big vocabulary and a great imagination.  How can we be sure that he does not lose the love of storytelling and the enthusiasm for education that he was showing me?  How do we keep it going past Pre-K?

I went down the hall to Ms. Steward-Brown’s kindergarten class.  The students showed me that they could already read a number of words.  I told them to keep up the good work.  I also mentioned that it was good luck to rub a bald-headed man’s head.  They all wanted to get some good luck, so I sat on the floor.  The kids jumped into my lap, and I got a good head rub.  We took a picture, and it was a great time for me.  That is Ms. Steward-Brown’s finger in the picture.  She let me dance with the kids as they got ready to go to lunch.  The kids are learning to read, and they are having fun.  It can be amazing when the magician (teacher) knows how to do it.  How do we keep it going past kindergarten?

After lunch I was walking down the corridor in one of our middle schools.  I heard the door slam.  A young man was walking toward me, with tears in his eyes, his stare elevated and his fists clenched tightly.  He did not want to catch my eye.  I stopped.  A teacher was right behind him, and just as we passed she said, “He is having a bad day.”  She got to him in a few more steps.  I stopped long enough to be sure that the situation was under control.  I heard her say quietly to him, “We can get through this… Please listen…..”

Later that same day, in one of our high schools, a student became frustrated and belligerent.  He pushed his way past his teacher and stomped into the hall.  A security guard was there by then, and asked the student to stop.  He did not. In a moment the situation escalated, and the student had to be subdued.  In seconds the student was being restrained.  The school resource officer, who obviously knew the young man, said quietly, “Come on, son.  Let’s just breathe a minute.  Let’s  talk.  We can work this out.”

What happened to Spiderman?



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