You could smell hope in the newly sharpened pencils. You could see it in the stacks and packs of blank notebook paper. You could hear it in the spotless new shoes squeaking on the varnished 100 year old floor. Hope whipped the unfamiliar into a wistful mist of encouragement as the weeks of “almost” became our new now.
In this first week together, I told stories about finding one’s voice, and folk tales about sweeping away darkness and gloom, and I told a Greek myth about a box encrusted with jewels and entrusted to a beautiful mortal girl. She was told not to open the box, but then… she couldn’t help it. As newly released anxiety, nervousness, worry, lack of confidence loomed around her– she slammed the box shut. And just in time, too! Hope stuck to the bottom. Uncertainty loomed around her, but she held on to hope. She would never be without it.
I taught my new third graders how to make Pandora’s Box out of paper and how to paint the boxes with glitter glue. Ryan is from China and speaks no English, but he is clearly artistic. I motioned that I would like him to help those who were having a difficult time. He quietly moved around the room and expertly lent a hand as needed. When the boxes dried he, along with the others, wrote the word “hope” and tucked it inside the box. I hoped he felt some of the hope that I feel for him.
As a class, we discussed and wrote about the hopes and dreams that these third graders brought with them. Many children wrote that they hoped to be better writers. Today will be our first writing workshop. Hope sticks. And love is launched in Room 204.