A Teacher's Day

The day in the life of an inner city large urban school district teacher after the high stakes testing ends and there is still three more months left before summer vacation.

Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States

I have taught school for over thirty years always in the inner city and for the most part always upper grade students. I have two children and I have been married for twenty years.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Coca Cola, Albertsons and Reading Is Fundalmental

Evan Georgi, the executive director of Reading is Fundamental, dropped by my school about a week ago. If you don’t know RIF, you should.

Many years ago—before many of you were born—RIF gave me a library for a learning center I ran for a little bit of time behind Mason School in the field house on Chicago’s westside. It was a great opportunity because many of the children didn’t have even one book in their house, let alone a personal library. With the help of RIF all those many years ago, a lot of students got their first books.

So you know I was happy to find out RIF was doing well in Chicago—so happy in fact I invited Evan to my school.

We spoke for a bit about RIF, another teacher sat in and asked a lot of good questions, I went on duty, and before everything was over, I had a contract for RIF for my school next year and a grant application (which I will share later this week).

Evan told me she would come out on Literacy Night and do a presentation. She only had a week to plan this and I thought that wasn’t really enough time, but when literacy night came, so did Julie Lawrenz, the program coordinator for RIF. And Julie brought with her around four hundred brand new books—enough for many of the families visiting the school on Literacy Night to begin libraries for their children at home.

Too often, as the poet Andrew Hudgins explains, “I learned early that reading, which I saw as pure pleasure, was seen by my parents as work.” This is why I was so glad Julie and Evan could give my students the opportunity to select their own books and start their own libraries.

We—Julie and I—even let a few children get greedy. We let them select more than one book and since two and four are not numbers I really like (four, in fact, the unlucky number in China), some children went away with three or five books. (I added poetry books which were donated to me a few months ago.)

Anyway, we can’t wait to start our RIF program and September 2007 seems so far away. Nonetheless, we did get quite a few books and we did pass out quite a few books and this morning as I write this teachers kindergarten through fourth are selecting books for their classroom library. What a change to see teachers actually happy this early in the morning.

By the way, I have to thank Albertsons, the Coca-Cola Company and RIF for getting these books to my school where they are really needed.

And I have to thank Evan again for granting my school the gift of reading. Isn’t it so much better to give a book as a gift? Can you not see the possibilities? Trick or treating can become trick or reading. Christmas can be a festival of reading clubs. The tooth fairy could leave a book. Birthdays would be better than a trip to the library.

How cool would that be?

A nation of readers who read for pleasure and learning because they discovered all of its joys—and with joy even work is satisfying.

Yeah, that would be too cool.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are so gracious.... I love your blog entry and even printed it to save.

6:15 AM  
Anonymous Carol Hampton Rasco said...

Thank you for this entry that captures the spirit of RIF so well! And welcome to the RIF family from the national headquarters.

Carol Hampton Rasco
Reading Is Fundamental, Inc.
Washington, DC

12:27 PM  

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