Thursday, May 03, 2007

It Couldn't Have Been Any Better

It couldn’t have been any better.

Arun Gandhi smiled gently at the middle schoolers greeting him in the bright sunshine beneath the azure sky.

Five time Nobel Prize nominee Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson was at our school.

It couldn’t have been any better.

As he moved from room to room smiling students nervously showed what they had written, created, drawn, and painted in anticipation of his visit. His quiet demeanor set nervous students at ease as he waited for his lunch, ate with students, walked our halls.

About fifty people circled the A______ Peace Garden as Mr. Gandhi came out to dedicate the new Peace Pole, declaring peace in our corner of the world in four languages. Students took turns getting their pictures with him, arranging camera angles so the piece of the World Trade Center, which already honors this place dedicated to human harmony, would frame their moment with our guest.

It couldn’t have been any better.

A respectful student body stood and applauded as Arun Gandhi entered. A respectful student body listened closely as the quiet man with the foreign accent spoke tales from a childhood helping his revered grandfather teach the world, teach him, the path to peace.

Those who know middle schoolers would be as amazed as the teachers in this audience to watch these children, marinated a dozen years in video games and fast paced movies, sit quietly, respectfully, honored and appreciative of our visitor.

It couldn’t have been any better.

Students spoke, students led, students shared.

A student operating a computer and projector threw a video he and his classmates had made onto the large screen in the darkened gym. Amid images of famous men and women, and everyday people who do their best in improving the world they posed the question: What makes a hero?”

One student stood before that crowd of hundreds. She spoke spontaneously that with the wealth and resources we are comfortable in using comes the responsibility to help others. Another student shared how Mr. Gandhi was building a school in India. This school, dedicated to the memory of his wife of fifty years, would benefit impoverished children in India. She told Mr Gandhi and her classmates how our school wants to help. She spoke how A______ students are starting a fundraising program to help build that school. She told us that it is the hope of A______ students to create a sister school relationship with that school.

That is a proud moment for me. The children of this school seek to include children in a school on the other side of the world in our family.

Hanging on a wall in the gym was a huge photo montage.

It was made by 24 separate classes, each working on a two foot square sheet of black paper. Each square had silvery lines separating what should be lightly colored, or medium, or dark. Each square filled by independent students in independent classes with words of encouragement, images of hope, pictures of heroes. And when those squares, filled with pictures of firefighters, and police officers, and mothers and fathers and even teachers, were put together, a portrait of Mahatma Gandhi smiled down from the gym wall. His grandson gazed back.

Arun Gandhi turned to a teacher.

“This is the first time I’ve seen such a picture of my grandfather. I’m moved by this unique work of art.”

He kindly placed his autograph on the portrait. It now graces our library.

It couldn’t have been any better.

A fellow teacher asked: “Of the hundreds of schools you must have visited, how does A______ compare?”

Mr Gandhi responded: “This is perhaps the most progressive school I have ever visited.”

In thinking about this day there isn’t a single stand out item. The day was filled with powerful moments. Stories of a man I have respected all of my life. Watching individual students behave with grace and manners and respect. Sharing a meal with a person who is dedicating his life to carry on such a great work. Enjoying the beautiful Oregon spring day in a garden dedicated to peace. Seeing my colleagues shine as they work with their charges in a simply glorious situation.

The testament of this day isn’t about the preparations children or staff made for this visit. The day was a testament to the years our school has placed in making connections between children and the larger world. Our Student Peace Advocates classes (SPA), our Peace Garden, Student leadership, character building programs, the everyday care and love A______ Middle School has fostered a culture, a school family, that makes being an educator everything I dreamt it might be.


beth said...

What a beautiful, lovely, encouraging post! I am glad to know that you were blessed and lifted up.

About time for a little sunshine, don't you think? God is good...

wilsonian said...

I hope you'll keep this post somewhere close, for those days when you wonder if you really make a difference.

Beautiful portrait of Gandi, btw.

ame said...

that is SO cool! and what an AMAZING piece of art!!!!!!!

Terry said...

Dear Curious Sevant...One thing I must say.."It couldn't have been better!"
How happy you are about the whole thing.
Man, what an honour to have that man to be there!
You know as I read through this posting, I got to thinking as you decribed your student body and their respect for Mr. Gandhi and their apparent enthusisiam for the school being built in India that
so many people put down the youngsters of today and yet inside their dear hearts is such a kindness!
Such a willingness to be a part of the action that is helping someone else!
Truly they and the elderly are the treasure of our land!
I would have loved to hear that young lady's speech, although the way you wrote it down, Curious Servant , I COULD hear it!!

Did your own heart, Curuous Severnt not swell up with just a little pride of your students?

This was a good posting!
Such a cheerful posting!
Such a "Curious Servant" posting!

Have a good weekend!!...From Terry

curious servant said...

Thank you.

In case anyone is wondering... my class did the left eye on the portrait.

MMM said...

In the Desert of the Real, I sit, and contemplate the Awesome.

Ahhh, the teachable moments. They all come back sevenfold. :)

I'm proud of you and of your school.

Jada's Gigi said...

Wow! What a testimony! It seems the personality of the builder permeates and influences every element of a building, be it corporation, church, family etc.....this speaks volumes to the person who envisioned and built your lovely school community..
what a blessing to be a part of such a community...
reminds me of His House and His community of saints..:)

Heidi Renee said...

What an honor and a lovely story, thank you for sharing with us!

Jim said...

C.S. this is truly a great moment for your school.
And the students did not let people down. The kids of today are bored stiff with what we are having them do.
They love a challenge and will respond to an extent far more than most of realize they are capable of doing.
I've seen it so many times with my college kids who were though dull and 'average' in high school.
They have told me there just were no challenges in HS, now they can learn something useful and try to excel.

Amrita said...

What an awesome time you had with Arun Gandhi. Makes me proud to be an Indian. Thank you to your school for helping build a school for underprivelleged children in India.

Judas Hate said...

"Live as if you were to die tomorrow but learn as if you were to live forever"
- Mahat Magandi

The left eye is the best part;-)

ukok said...

I agree with Wilsonian, keep this post somewhere readily retrievable!

You helped to make this awesome day come to fruition. I wish I could have been there as it will surely be an experience that the students carry in their hearts for many years to come, if not for the rest of their lives.

For an eye, that left eye says so much...

squirrel said...

You are teaching at a truly remarkable school! It's nice to have those great days at work that make you feel like it's all been worth it.

Nilla said...

Dear CS,
Being of curious nature myself, I have had today the privilege of discovering your blog for the first time, from a link on a fellow countryman's blog site. I have spent time reading through several posts. I feel truly blessed to have found it. I will be back again often. I am currently practising patience and the Lord's peace as I await the arrival of my 4th child, now 7 days past the due date. But I am trusting that all will be well, in His time. God bless you and your family. I feel proud of your students.

curious servant said...

Thank you, Nilla.

I tried to return the visit, but your profile is blocked. Take care.