Wednesday, March 28, 2012

An Abrupt End

Breaking news: My beloved M has moved to a new school. For those of you just joining us on this challenge ride, M was the 8-year-old I was tutoring through a program called Reading Partners for challenge no. 21 (permanently and positively enrich the life of a child). Things started off quite chaotic until we fell into a rhythm of friendship and joyous learning. Just go ahead and imagine a feel-good montage filled with piles of books, nods of approval, and slow-motion high-fives.

I didn't even get to say goodbye! She is out of my life forever, and I have no idea where she'll go or who she'll become. I'd like to think that our short time together left an impression on her crazy (in a good way!) brain, maybe if only subconsciously, and one day when she is at a crossroads in her life, she will remember that one day in Room 306 when some weird old person told her that she could accomplish great things if she just worked hard and never gave up on learning. And in twenty years I'll be floating by a bookstore window on my hoverboard and see a display for the latest best-selling novel by someone named M, and I will smile a smile from the movies.

I think it's pretty clear that she may have enriched my life more than I did hers.

Yesterday I was assigned a new student to tutor. We will call her J. She is in the fourth grade, a much more advanced reader than M was. J is one of the sweetest little girls I have ever met. She is new to the school, which at this point does not surprise me, and is eager to learn.

We read a story about Paul Bunyon, during which I learned that J had never heard of the Grand Canyon and didn't know what a prairie or a pasture was. It's amazing how different your world view is when all you know is the five boroughs, when you change schools depending on what shelter you're living in, when you've seen a lifetime of hardship by the age of ten.

Hopefully J and I will work together long enough for me to meet this challenge. She certainly deserves my best effort.

Whoa, that ended heavier than anticipated. This one's for generation Y:

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