Mary Beth Writes

Two things today – both related to schools.

1. I’ve volunteered for three years at Whittier Elementary School in Waukesha.  Once a week I walk out of my world into 3rd grade world and while I am there, my world simply disappears!

If you are the kind of person who is fond of kids who have ordinary and extraordinary challenges with reading and learning and doing kid-math – please consider being a volunteer, too.  You can call up schools near you. 

If you live in Waukesha, you can call Mary Green, the Social Worker at Whittier. Her # is 262-970-2805. Mention my name, she knows you might call.  There are a handful of volunteers who help at Whittier; there is not one-size-fits-all volunteer program. Ms. Green will ask you what you like to do; you will talk with her for a while and come up with a plan. After that she will connect you to a teacher who would love to have a consistent volunteer. 

Consistency is important. If you travel a lot or are gone for months at a time, this is probably not a situation for you. Kids need to know you will show up and show up and show up again. 

I love what I do. In the past I sat with one kid at a time as they read to me. I helped them sound out words, asked if they understood what they just read, smiled and gave them high-fives when they got through a hard page.  It is so much fun. You sort of act as their Golden Retriever who can talk.

This year I am working steadily with one adorable and motivated child. I bring “extra” things for her to read or look at, since she is a bright child who can soak up extra challenges.  There is another kid in this class who is just as motivated and ready for a mentor, but there are no extra adults to work with him an hour per week. 

That gentle, smart, responsible kid is the one who prompted me to write this piece today.

... 

2. Whittier has a Makers’ Space.  This is a room next to the school library where kids invent and make things that support what they are learning. The space has some amazing upscale resources – but it also goes through a LOT of ordinary supplies. I was with the kids this past week as they were inventing and building musical instruments. There were not enough paper towel tubes! There were not enough boxes.! They were short on tape!

If you know me, save some of these supplies, give them to me, I will take them to Whittier. 

  • Sturdy boxes the size of shoe boxes or smaller.
  • Paper tubes. They have enough TP tubes, think paper towels or wrapping paper tubes.
  • Tape!  Colored tape. Did you buy Washi tape years ago and never used it up?  The kids will love it! Scotch tape. Masking tape. Duct tape. Little tapes. Big tape!
  • Pads of nice paper. Not lined stuff, but those pads of art paper many of us have around from when our kids were young.  Half used pads of lovely paper would be great.
  • Empty, de-labelled, washed-out sturdy detergent plastic bottles. 

The kids seem to have enough string, thread, ribbon and twine.  They don’t need more plastic water bottles. Kids tried to work with them, but those flimsy bottles are nearly useless; kids can’t cut them or poke holes in them and neither could I.

Kids need materials that they can manipulate with scissors and imagination. Their enthusiasm is so much fun.

Comments

I know the kids love you. Volunteering is on my bucket list for retirement.
Mary Beth's picture

Getting a random hug from a little kid who is not one's "own" little kid is the best....

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Quarantine Diary #15 3/28/2020

The Long-Awaited Groceries (The hymn “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus” is in my brain right now) came last night at 9PM – when it was raining. A woman named Sarah, late 30’s, brown ponytail, not-posh sweatpants and hoodie – carried ALL our groceries across the street from her car to our porch. This included 8-packs of Gatorade plus boxes of seltzer water, plus lots of other heavy stuff. Did I mention it was raining?

Quarantine #14 3/27/2020

Last night we did another wild and crazy thing. We got in our car and went for a drive! The first thing we remarked to each other was that we had not been in the car together in weeks.  It felt a little odd to be in there, next to each other, about to GO SOMEPLACE! Maybe this is the way it feels to be the family dog when they let you sit in the front seat and EVERYTHING IS SO AMAZING!

We drove west into the rosy sunset, filled with excitement to, um, see the sky.  Quarantines are easiest on people who have a low bar for excitement.

Quarantine Diary #13 3/26/2020

What do you miss?  What, in our new pandemical world do you miss most from our pre-pandemical world?You know, the one we lived in till two weeks ago?

I don’t mean the heartbreaking realities such as safe medical care providers and enough places to go should one become ill and the loved ones that we are losing.

I just mean, what are we getting used to? Or trying to get used to. What might we never go back to?

Quarantine Diary #12 3/25/2020

Right now it is 11:00AM.  Got up this morning at the regular time. Did regular things. Came to the office to write. Worked (hardly at all) on a project, wrapped an item for eBay. Announced to Len at 10:30 that I was sleepy and going to take a nap.

You know what he said?  He said, “Me, too.”

The following half hour he took the sofa and I took our bed and both of us slept like toddlers on cots.

Quarantine Diary #11 3/24/2020

Most mornings we wake up, get coffee, then sit in bed to read news websites and Twitter on our phones. This isn’t the most spiritually centering way to begin a day but IMHO any morning one can actually rouse oneself at all is good enough.

Except this. Remember when Len and I went to Kearny, Nebraska last spring to see the migrating Sandhill Cranes? (Right here.) 

When I have freaked out enough about the news, I go to this crane cam. 

Quarantine Diary #10 3/23/2020

This was a really good part of today. When my daughter was putting the baby down for his nap, Len and I read storybooks to our 3-year old granddaughter before her nap. Literally, she was sitting on her little bed in Chicagoland while holding mommy’s phone.  I read; Len moved the phone around carefully to show the illustrations. 

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