Fireflies: August Reflections: Crayons, Chalk, & Glue         

Aug 1, 2012

August Reflections: Crayons, Chalk, & Glue

Is there any better gift to a little girl who is playing school than to receive a box of 64 crayons, colored chalk, a pad of construction paper and a bottle of glue that isn't clogged up?  Top it off with a trip to the library to "stock up her classroom" with books, and I'd say she's just about in teacher heaven.  I'm blessed to say these occurences were rather common for me growing up.  

Once I began teaching, I must confess that it was still exciting to open the boxes of all the new packages of crayons, chalk, paper, glue and oh! so many lovely colors of paint! Unpacking boxes of new books was almost more than I could handle!

And then I took a trip that changed my life...

While my husband was working for World Vision, I was privileged to travel to Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya. During our time there we were fortunate to visit a few schools. Not having any idea what to expect, I was somewhat shocked to find buildings without windows, dirt floors, wooden benches, few tables, and limited books and supplies of any kind. Students of varied ages were  often working together, older children guiding younger ones, some sharing texts, but all were actively involved in structured learning. There was not a discipline problem to be seen anywhere. Each child and student knew what was expected of them and they were doing it. Smiles and sharing were everywhere. 

Lessons were being written on scraps of paper. Pictures were being drawn and colored on sacks. No one seemed bothered. We motioned to the teacher, asking if we could hand out the colored pencils and construction paper we had brought. She readily agreed.  It was hard for me to choke back tears to see the eyes widen and the laughter spread when these dear children accepted our meager gifts with such joy. They began to sing, bow and clap.  I was overcome with an emotion of gratitude I couldn't explain. I knew God wasn't wanting me to feel guilty for all I've been given, but to be truly grateful. And at that moment I knew what that felt like.
Continuing our Olympic theme this month, we will share about some Olympians that overcame great obstacles in order to compete and reach their goals. I believe that many of the children I met in Africa will do great things because of their ability to rise above their circumstances.  Let us not feel guilty, but be grateful for each and every gift we have been given, for every goal we have reached and for every attempt that we have made. For it is only when we have not tried that we have failed.

During the remainder of this month we will be sharing some not-so-typical books about school.  You'll see an African school up close, find out why Cal is "not the readin' type", and have fun finding letters and numbers in some very strange places.  Happy August!

Mary Byrne Kline  
Fireflies Co-Founder
Director of Reading Instruction

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