Penny's Passion. My mind is going a million miles an hour lately, but most of it is in circles around work. For some jobs, this could be useful, but I'm not in an extremely mental job - I'm a lunch lady (okay, breakfast lady mostly, but that doesn't have the same ring to it).
I've been thinking about all the kids falling through the cracks. I see all the fabulous videos of the great teachers who greet every kid at the door, and the principals who know every child's name and story, and watching the instantaneous success that YouTube shows when you treat each child with respect. I love it, and nearly every one brings a tear to my eye.
But the kids you will never see in those videos are the ones whose struggle keeps them from even getting there in time for the greeting at the door. They're not there for all the back-patting and checking in that happens while everyone gets ready for learning. They're sometimes not treated as much more than a number, because by the time they arrive, class is already in session.
See, I'm the breakfast lady every day. I start feeding kids around 8:15am. The kids I feed at 8:15 were dropped off for latchkey care sometime after 6:30 or 7am. I love to chat them up for a few minutes - see how their evening was, what they're looking forward to, follow up with what they may have told me earlier in the week.
Around 8:30 or so, my bussed kids start arriving. It's sort of a rush by then, but I make sure to wish them a good day and call them by name. I know how hectic the morning can be, and my kids will tell you how grumpy I can be trying to get us out the door on time. So once they've made it to school, I want them to see a smiling face and be able to head to class with a full belly.
I have to get a little stricter around 8:50. It's time to go to class so you can get counted in attendance, and order your lunch. Some of the smaller kids, especially, may not have finished eating, so they'll take what's left of their breakfast to the classroom. There have been a few occasions where I've needed to help them balance their goodies to their room, or found a helper to go with them.
As I start cleaning up a little after 9am, I always have a few stragglers. These are the kids I'm talking about. They aren't in the welcome videos, and they've missed the instructions for their first activity in the classroom. But if they've gotten to me, they're still hungry! I try to efficiently get them breakfast (sometimes they arrive after I've packed up the food, but no one goes to class hungry if I can help it). It's a tricky game - trying to rush them to class while helping them to not feel rushed. And I never want them to feel like I'm too busy with something else to feed them. See, that's my first job - feed the kids.
I've got a soft spot for these kids - the ones falling through the cracks. The ones sliding a little further behind each day. I'm thinking, but thinking doesn't do much to help them. I'm not sure what will. I'm really happy for the smiling kids in the videos, but I try to get a smile out of all my kids. I wish I could do something to give them all a fighting chance.
I do what I can - I feed the kids.
Wow, this is really moving. I can't even image the emotions you go through doing this. I know I would get attached and struggle the same.
Having been a substitute teacher for many years I know just which kids you mean... and in our town there are an abundant number of them.
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