I ran into a former student this morning at my community garden. She was there for a school-related program; I was just there to water and weed and hope a little as I surveyed the puny seedlings just beginning to emerge from the little patch I cultivate.
She was wandering around the garden in a state of apparent bliss, eating from a styrofoam cup. I called her by name and said hello. She smiled and said hello back to me.
“Do you have ice cream in that cup?” I asked her.
“Mmmm-hmmmm!” she affirmed, tilting the cup so I could see.
“Do you know how I knew that?” I asked.
She scraped her plastic spoon against the inside of her cup, getting every last bite. “How?”
“You had on an ‘I’ve got ice cream’ face . . . ” I explained.
She grinned even more broadly than she had been doing.
” . . . Like you were just going to bust out giggling at any second!” I continued.
She did. Giggle.
Whenever I wonder why I spend so much time teaching, I think of faces like that. Beaming, blissful faces. Faces like that of one student who, earnestly, seriously, and with the concentration of a brain surgeon, played two solo measures of “Turkey in the Straw” on the violin in one of our public performances and, looking to me for approval, brightened and beamed as I gave her the “thumbs up” and the audience applauded.
Faces like the ones I witnessed this week when I told some new students that yes, they had been accepted into our Summer Musical Theatre Workshop. Faces of students who just plain were too timid to speak, but who screwed up their courage, delivered a line, realized that they had not died, and, in fact, that the audience was enjoying themselves. Faces of parents watching their children doing something new.
I’m going to have some ice cream now and compare my face to theirs. And then hone our curriculum a wee bit more.
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