Friday, May 11, 2012


It's only a 15 minute drive from my house to Parkway, but it may as well be worlds apart. An outsider probably wouldn't be able to recognize the riches this community has despite its poverty. They have deep cultural roots and such a strong sense of family. They have each other's backs.     

This has been one of the most challenging years of my life - yet in the midst of it I've been given so many gifts.

One of my first memories is walking into each 1st grade classroom and meeting my team. They welcomed me with open arms - and chocolate. They told me I was an answer to their prayers, a blessing. I cried. For so many reasons I cried. 

It's not easy teaching at Parkway, in fact it's extremely tough. Behavior is a daily challenge. Trying to engage the students for 7 1/2 hours EVERYday is exhausting. But you can't help but fall in love with them. They are so loving, and in need of so much love.

Ernest. Oh Ernest. I'll never forget sweet Ernest. My first day was a wake-up call. Parkway kids know one volume, and one volume only...LOUD! Definitely not something I was used to. So out of frustration and desperation I raised my voice to get their attention. It got their attention, and took little Ernest by surprise. He looked at me with shock in his big brown eyes, and without missing a beat raised his hands to the heavens and proclaimed "hallelujah"! I couldn't help but laugh out loud. That boy knows him some church and he knew I was preaching! He is always so eager and full of joy. He walks in bright-eyed with a big smile on his face every morning.

Se'Niya. Se'Niya can't sit still or be quiet to save her life. And I gave up asking her to try either one a long time ago. If you walked into my classroom you would probably hear Se'Niya singing something like "Somebody call 911...Shawty fire burning on the dance floor..." Or you might see her on top of her desk. Or you might see her whipping her new weave back and forth proudly. There isn't a dull moment when Se'Niya is around.    

There were days that I wanted to run away and never go back. I would cry in the morning on the way to school and at night after I got home. Then there were days that I didn't want to teach anywhere else. I wouldn't have traded Parkway for anything.  

After this year I am headed back to Roberts to teach 3rd grade reading. I will leave Parkway with my eyes opened and my heart expanded. I am thankful for the experience. I will treasure this year always. Parkway holds a special place in my heart.