This past Tuesday marked my last day at Travis Elementary as an assistant teacher with the Writers in the Schools (WITS) program. On my final day, the Travis kids were asked to read one to two of their favorite compositions, which were published in their WITS Anthology, on a stage and in front of an audience.
I met MaryScott at the Multi-Purpose Activity Court, where she had already arranged the folding chairs for an audience,set up the microphone and speakers, adjusted the ‘WITS-purple’ lighting, and covered a flowery tablecloth with fresh baked cookies and juice boxes. The room was ready.
One-by-one, the first group of fourth graders filed in. They circled the snack table, eyeing the cookies, on their way to the folding chairs. After MaryScott announced the ‘rules’ (that is, perform your poem before indulging in the cookies), the kids went to work. They approached the microphone, undaunted by their audience, and read the poems they had worked on all year.
I managed the snack table, handing the kids a cookie and a high-five after each performance. The performance was both delightful and sad; of course, I’d miss those kids. Before leaving the gymnasium, most of them lined up behind the snack table to give me goodbye hugs, ask me if I’d be teaching 5th grade next year, or shout an elated “Thank You, Miss Eriel!”
These students were a quirky bunch, and I enjoyed every hour I spent with both groups – no matter how much King Cake they consumed, which quadrupled their energy levels, or how many beanbags they had dotting the floor, turning the classroom into an obstacle course, the time was always well spent. I’ll miss reading their work and helping them through the editing process. I’ll miss listening to them debate over how old I was – they couldn’t decide between twelve and fourteen. I’ll miss the girls asking when I’d finally bring ‘Flounder’ and ‘Sebastian’ with me to Travis.
It has been a delight working with students at Travis Elementary, WITS writer MaryScott Hagle, and the WITS community. I hope to see and work with all of them in the future.
Eriel, WITS Intern