White Knoll Middle looks like your typical school from the outside. Bell, flag pole, parking lot. You get the picture. But unless and until you go inside, you have no idea what a happenin’ place it is.
And these kids, they are alive with poetry, writing, literacy, checking books out of the library and questions! Lots of questions. Questions are good, questions mean students are engaged in learning.
Here’s one question that really got me thinking. It was posted to my blog and asked at an assembly: “If you had sons instead of daughters, would you still have written so much poetry?” Wow. I’ve been tossing that one around in my head for two days, sorting poems in imaginary piles of yes, no, and maybe. And I think the final answer is, yes, for the most part the poems were in me. They were unleashed by watching my children grow up, kind of my letters to them from the kitchen table. BUT, if I had had sons only, some of the topics of the poems might have been different. Boys can be just as upset about getting glasses and braces as girls, but they might be less inclined to want “red hair and ten pounds less of me by Friday.” Some of the reoccurring themes of my poems would have been the same — independence vs wanting to fit in, being honest about feelings and trying to decide what is really true, those themes don’t belong to either boys or girls. Those are themes of human existence and of each of us trying to find our best way to live. For me, poetry as helped direct me on my path in life.
Thank you to Ruth Edwards and Nancy for working so hard to prepare the kids. The lesson plan Ruth developed was brilliant and certainly got everyone into investigative reporter mode, which lead to (you guessed it) most excellent questions.
This is truly a special school. After 9/11 the school raised (are you ready?) $500,000 to buy a new firetruck for one that was destroyed in NYC. Can you imagine raising that kind of money? And people think that kids just care about designer tennis shoes. Ha! Posted on the wall is a clipping from People Magazine quoting one student: “‘We’re all Americans,” says 13 year old Chase Hilliard, explaining why he pitched in. “Being up there, you may be Yankees. But you’re our Yankees.'” That made me laugh, being a yankee and all. Encased in glass in the lobby is a piece of the destroyed firetruck that White Knoll Middle School students worked so hard to replace.
Wiow. It was chilling to see and and a heartening story to hear.