When the halls are bright and covered with student artwork, I know something about the school. And when the librarian who invited me and the staff are friendly and welcoming, I know more.
|Ms. Cruz, me and lovely librarian, Marie Smith|
The morning I arrived at Hidden Oaks Elementary, parents were flooding into the library to participate in a monthly program to celebrate their children. The librarian, Marie Smith, was coming from creating the morning news. She was proud that every book in the library was chosen by her because she opened the library 8 years ago, when the school opened.
Don't even try to tell me librarians are anything less than the heart of a school.
During this visit, I spoke to two large groups of students -- 4th grade and 5th grade -- in the music room. It was a cozy atmosphere where I could be close to the kids and interact with them.
They were wonderful!
|Jake got to hold Hammy the Hamster because he has a real hamster named Hammy.|
These students were so enthusiastic about reading and writing. They were nice not only to me, but to each other. And they went out of their way to make me feel welcome.
|These girls made this terrific "Welcome" poster. Don't you love the green Converse sneakers?|
I loved meeting ALL the students, but two of them made an imprint on my heart.
Jackson, with Down Syndrome, was so excited to get his book signed that he hugged me for a long time and kissed the back of my head, then he turned and kissed the top of the head of the boy in line behind him. "Best part of my day," I told the students. "Best part!" The kids were grinning like crazy.
|A young friend, Ms. Cruz and Jackson|
But the moment that slayed me -- and it was only a moment because that's the way these things happen -- a girl came up after my presentation to tell me something. "My dad lived in Philadelphia, too," she said. I asked her a question about where he lived, then said, "Tell your dad I said hi." With students crowding behind her, she replied, "He's not here anymore. He's up in heaven."
I gave this girl such a hug, then whispered in her ear, "My new book is all about that." (It's about a boy in Philadelphia who comes to terms with the death of his dad.)
She looked up at me. "It is?"
I nodded, then gave her an extra hug, because even if she didn't need it, I did.