Saturday, June 30, 2007

Same kid, different circumstances

What a difference a year can make.

This time last year, I witnessed a child who seemed lost and alone in a crowd of his peers. It seems to only take a few adolescents to turn a bright classroom into a mob of exclusive, discriminatory elitists looking to find opportunities to hurt one another. A class of kids, most of whom had been together for 3 years, became a place of anguish for a warm-hearted child as he watched his friends, one by one over the years, leave the program to return to kinder, gentler surroundings. Last year he'd had enough too, and quietly excused himself 4 weeks before the end of the year to become the 'new kid' in a school where he knew no one. Those four weeks relieved the entire previous 3 years of tension and anxiety, even without classroom buddies. It broke my heart.

This year he entered a new program for kids gifted in the sciences. Everyone was new in September, everyone beginning with a blank slate, everyone excited to meet new friends and build community with one another. I watched as my extroverted kid, who had turned inward and unsure over the past 3 years, come out of his shell and into his own as he was really seen for who he is and enjoyed for what he brings. It's been one of the most fulfilling things for his mom to watch. He has gone to parties, joked and laughed, made friends and most importantly, realized the value he brings to a group once again.

It's been a terrific school year. I'm as excited as he is as he looks forward to High School next year. Brand new school, brand new adventure. And lucky boy, he'll know people from four different elementary schools. This experience has taught him a lot. He's learned through some tough times. But he's learned some truths that will take him a long way in life.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Gentle Teaching in La Ronge

What a beautiful town. The sun was bright until past 10 p.m. - amazing. The lake is HUGE - imagine the size of the fish, if you can find them. It's neat to watch the planes come in and go out from the water. I wonder if the people who live there ever get tired of waving to everyone any time someone goes past? We sure felt welcomed when we went there to bring a GT workshop last week. We stayed in a furnished apartment they keep for itinerant instructors at NORTEP, so we had a little home-away-from-home while we were there.

87 people attended the two-day workshop. Unbelievable, in a region with a population of 5000, including the reserve(s) and Air Ronge. That's the equivalent of around 2500 attending in Saskatoon. They are looking for ways to change the random violence that occurs. We drove one gal home on our way out, and she shared the about various deaths in her family over the past few months. There was talk of bringing us back to work in the school system with the younger kids to start fostering a gentle community spirit in the hearts of the little ones in hopes of them moving into mentorship roles as they grow up. A neat idea.

We came home to a house in happy chaos. The grandparents managed the kids' schedules (and probably have a new appreciation for what it means when they ask, 'how are things' and we say 'oh, busy but good'). The painters were done with the front of the house, the gravel pile is waiting for the siders to finish so we can move it where it needs to go, the deck is beautiful but incomplete, lights need to be put up, no doorbell, debris everywhere, a blown budget... Renovations. They never end. We have a hurry-up to-do list until mid-July, and look forward to the odd moment of quiet here and there. Tim is outta town for another 3-day workshop in Swift Current this week, and I think there's another one somewhere before end of June. I'm so glad he has a comfy air-conditioned vehicle with a big fat warranty, cuz he's burning up the Trans Canada this month.

And it is cheesecake season - er, I mean birthday season at the House of Jones. There goes the diet...

Junior Jones #1 is 16 in less than a week. Junior #2 is readying for his Grade 8 grad. J#3 is more young lady than little girl. Now how does that work, when Tim and I are so young?!