Over the past couple of weeks, I have been working with fifth graders as they craft “Where I’m From” poems. Our mentor is George Ella Lyon, a poet laureate of Kentucky and author of many books for children.
Friday afternoon in one class the students were sharing their finished poems. We heard some memorable lines along the way, unique lines, and lines so familiar we could have written them ourselves, read by the bold and brave students who volunteered to stand before their peers.
We were almost out of time when I saw another boy who seemed to raise his hand. It was so tentative, I couldn’t be sure. I asked him if he wanted to share his poem, and he nodded his head, stood, and came to the front of the room. He is a shy guy, a special ed student who struggles to get assignments finished. But he really wanted to read his poem. His voice was strong, though a little hesitant. He read each line deliberately, methodically. A time or two his nerves got the best of him, and he turned to me to help him with a word, but he kept going. This was his story and he wanted to share it. The class applauded at the end. His classmates shared comments with him just as they had with others. They pointed out how they could identify with the “bossy sister” he mentioned, that he had used some rhyming, which they liked, and his ending was kind of a surprise ending.
I was proud of everyone. I have to admit, I was teary-eyed walking down the hall when I left their classroom. What a moment to celebrate!