Saturday, September 17, 2005

Ah, good times

A brief anecdote from my two (quite enjoyable) years as a pre-K teacher at Volunteers Of America Oregon, which was a wonderful organization:

Oregon is a fairly white state. In my entire two years there, though the program was for very low-SES families, we had maybe five black kids at our center. This story takes place at a time when we had two black kids, KI and AR, out of about 25 total. One day, we were having our normal circle time; I was reading a book or leading a discussion or singing a song --- I forget exactly, but some routine circle activity. Suddenly, apropos of nothing at all, four-year-old KI leaps to his feet. "Look at all these white kids!" he cries. "Let's count 'em!"

And, pointing, he begins to do so. "One, two, three..."

"Yes, all right, thank you, KI. Thanks. That's good. Sit down now."

I still smile at that.

VOA was a wonderful time in my life, and although I'd worked with kids before, it was there that I really found that I had a calling for it. Honestly, some weekends I was almost eager for Monday to come. (It seems bizarre now; I'm so much more burned-out and jaded.) The pay was quite low, but the benefits were good, my coworkers were mostly a good bunch, and the intangible rewards were plentiful --- just like, as far as I can tell from everything I've heard and read so far, real teaching in the public school system!

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