Thursday, August 14, 2008

Where I'm From

I’ve heard it been said that if you don’t know where you’re from, you’ll have a hard time knowing where you are going. This very idea helps us to think about our roots as we begin to know our place in the world. A few years ago I was introduced to George Ella Lyons poem called “Where I’m From.” I loved this poem and began writing my own “Where I’m From” each year. Today, I use it as a writing assignment for my students and hope it lends itself to a wonderful exploration of their past and sense of belonging in this world.

Click here to listen to George Ella Lyon read "Where I'm From."

My Where I'm From

I am from metal lunch boxes,
From Estee Lauder perfume on the bathroom counter, and tacos for dinner.

I am from the back yard swing set
A splintered redwood deck
A dusty ball court
A place to wash cars in the summer.

I am from heart-leaf philodendrons watered every Saturday,
The old English rose bush whose blooms clung to the bay window peeking inside.

I am from breakfast on Christmas morning.
And being resourceful.

From Susanne Mae and Geraldine and Grandpa J.
I am from workaholics and gardeners
From family men and weekends at the lake.
From “never say I told you so” and “kiss me goodnight.”

I am from church—twice on Sunday,
and Wednesday night bible class.
From Jordan’s Stormy Banks and Canaan’s Land.
I am from Brush Arbor singing and Dinner on the Grounds.
From Springfield, Missouri and Pennsylvania Dutch.

I am from homemade ice cream and Granny’s “Half as Much” pie crust.
Red-eye gravy and Springfield Cashew Chicken.

From dad, skipping class to shoot buckets,
and mom, changing into mini-skirts at the bus stop,
and the two of them stealing kisses in the ’55 Chevy two-door hardtop.

I am from the picture box, bursting at the seams,
old and sturdy,
that makes us laugh on Christmas eve.

On my way to the bathroom...Maroon Day 1

Whew! I'm tired! Maroon Day 1 was exhausting. I've been busy all summer but there's nothing that takes it out of you more than the first day back to school. Answering questions. Giving directions. Sorting schedules. Fixing the copy machine. Finding time to eat, drink, and go the bathroom...and that's usually where I'm stopped.

"Ms. Daugherty!" a student will yell, like one male student did today. I stop mid-step hoping I don't wet my pants in the middle of the freshman hall.

"Yes?" I reply.

"Are you the one I talk to about Senior Project?"

Oh good, this will be short. "Yeah. What do you need?"

"Well..." (uh, oh. not short.) "I was wondering if I could put a stereo system into my car for my Senior Project."

"I can't say yes for sure right now, but it sounds like a great idea. Let's talk about it in class." I start toward the bathroom again. I mean, obviously it's only the first day of school and I just haven't had this student in class yet. Otherwise, he would know that we will start Senior Projects on October 1.

"But I'm not a senior. I just wanted to get a head start."

Hold the bathroom break.

"OH. Well, in that case, I'll need a lot more information before you get started. And we'll need to write a plan," (hoping this will dissuade him.)

"I'm gonna"

"And I really only have time" I completely interrupt him, "to work with seniors working on their projects this year. You and I will need to meet later."

"Well," trying to convince me of the 'go ahead', "I would build the speaker boxes and everything, including putting all the sound equipment in."

Hmmph. I've got to get to the bathroom. "Well, come back and I'll talk a little more in-depth with you about it, but let's get school underway for a few more days before we meet again. I'll have time to think about it then."

Content with that, he was on his way to 4th block and I was racing to the bathroom!

So, it was encouraging to see fresh and friendly faces at school. Some students were dressed to for the occasion, wearing their best new school clothes...and some, well, the same old ratty jeans and t-shirts that seem to be the fashion of the day.

The funniest moment occurred when I got so tickled walking by Mr. Rodgers room and felt a rush of cool air coming from his classroom. This can only mean one thing: my room is a freezer! Mr. Rodgers likes his room cool, especially with nerves and anxieties that come with the first day of school and talking to a whole new group of strangers every block.

Overall, a great day at WSHS.