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 #23 4/5/2020 Rabbit Holes

This morning I listened to my UU congregation’s virtual service. In the sermon Rev. David Kraemer AKA my friend Dave, read a quote that he said he read in one of my diary entries this past week.

The quote is from Albert Camus’ The Plague. “It may seem a ridiculous idea, but the only way to fight the plague is with decency.” Another character asks what decency is. “Doing my job,” the doctor replies.

Quarantine Diary #22 4/4/2020 Talking More?

I have noticed that I am talking more than usual and generally, I am talking about something pandemic-related.  I live with Len plus I often talk/email/text with kids or friends throughout an ordinary day. So sure, I converse pretty often. But I am noticing that I am interrupting Len and myself more often to say stuff – often crazy, scary, outrageous news I’ve just read.

Quarantine Diary #21 4/3/2020 Besides angry....

Today is day #21. It’s been THREE weeks already, guys. 

Thank you, John Denver for saying it so well. 

 “Let’s go to the bakery and watch the buns rise…”

I’m going to try to be something besides pissed-off today.  The writer of my fav non-consumer/frugality website posted something new yesterday. She eloquently describes how ANGRY she is right now. She’s an RN. She has a college kid living at home instead of at his college. She’s worried about loved ones in their 70’s.

Quarantine Diary #20 4/2/2020 Wampanoag People

In the 1500’s a lot of loose European adventurer/exploiter types were cruising the new Americas. Ship captains and crews trolled the eastern seaboard; they frequently kidnapped native people to sell as slaves or curiosities back in Europe. Yes, they did this.

Quarantine Diary #19 4/1/2020

I remember the first year I was old enough to create an April Fool’s Joke; I was about 7- or 8-years-old.  I was still short enough so that to get things from the upper cupboards, I needed to jump and hoist myself up to the counter, then pull up onto my knees, and then I could peruse the shelves for what I wanted. Cookies and boxes of Lifesavers were on the left. Plates and glasses on the right. There was probably healthy stuff there, too, but fifty years later I have no visuals on where the cans of vegetables were.

Quarantine Diary #18 3/31/2020

This morning I’m “hosting” coffee with friends via Zoom and I’m kinda nervous about if it will work. 

My congregation has been having virtual coffee hours; it’s such a happy thing to see friends’ faces. Because my church “made” us do this I sort of see how it works and so, why not try with others? During this time any organization that forces us to try options to stay connected - that’s mission accomplished right there.  (So thanks Dave and Dennis and whomever else got this going.)

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