Friday, February 28, 2003

my ja kids..

well, my last day with the kids was on wednesday, and it was a sad, yet fun-filled day. i ended up taking the suggestions of an anonymous commenter and george to buy the kids a journal. i headed out to borders monday night and after looking through several high priced journals, i finally found the kind i wanted and not only were they under $5 each, but they also had several of them! they came in dark shades of blue and green velvetty hardcovers with the word JOURNAL etched on the cover and blank ruled pages inside. my company provided us with cool logo pens to give to the students as well, and i added some colorful pencils to the mix. so, i walked into the class with a suitcase full of journals with personal messages from me on the inside cover. the personal messages i wrote varied from student to student, but the underlying similarities were clear: focus on school, make sure you do your best, go to college, live life to the fullest, always give your all and i know you will succeed, etc. let me just say that i haven't hand-written so much in a very long time! computers have me spoiled! my right arm was throbbing with pain after finishing all 29 journals (not 33, i miscalculated)! but it was worth it.

when i walked into the classroom, all the kids started clapping and pointed towards the banner posted on the dryerase board that had a drawing of tweety on one side and mickey mouse on the other and said THANK YOU in the middle with all the kids' signatures written all over the banner! not only that, but the classroom was decorated with a streamers and there was a huge cake sitting in the corner of the classroom with a card on top! i was so touched! i thanked them and told them how much i enjoyed being there and that i would try my best to make sure i got a chance to come back to their class next fall. and then i began my lesson for the day.

on the last day, our topic was "using credit wisely" and it was really interesting to see what the kids knew (and didn't know) about credit cards. my underlying message to them throughout the session was that credit cards, while useful at times, are evil. i could see the teacher turning to agree with me everytime i warned the kids about getting into credit card debt. most of them didn't realize the high interest factor until we did an exercise that involved looking at a credit card statement and calculating the interest that would be due by the time the next statement arrived. they were surprised, but of course i wasn't. some of them shared stories of their parents being in credit card debt and i told them of my own headaches with credit cards. i advised them to wait until they get a job to apply for a credit card and to avoid succumbing to the temptations and pressures of having one in college. i think they really got the message. i wish i had someone to tell me that before i got to college. i may have used my first credit card a little more wisely.

at the end of the session i gave them a small multiple choice quiz that tested them on all the topics we covered. most of them did quite well. then, as the pizzas started to arrive, i told them that i had presents for everyone and pulled out my suitcase full of journals. i encouraged them to use the journals to write or draw and express themselves whenever they felt happy or sad or frustrated or depressed or just plain old bored. i'm not sure how they took it.. maybe they were hoping for something a little more "fun", but i knew that several of them would use it and i also told them that if they finished writing every line on every page, that they should email me and i'd send them another one.

so one by one, graduation style, i had them come up to collect their certificates, journal, cool pen and pencil. and as each person came up, the whole class clapped for them. it was awesome! i could hear them saying to each other "ooh.. let me see what she wrote in your journal!" and it made me smile.

once the gift giving was over, it was time to chow. the pizza was less than stellar, but the cake was damn good! apparently everyone in the class chipped in to buy the cake, and the card, which had a touching message, was signed by all the kids. later, i took lots of pictures and then it was time to go. i got hugs from the girls and handshakes from the boys, and as i hugged one of the girls goodbye, she said "are you coming back next year?" but unfortunately i didn't know the answer to that.

it seemed like they had a great time and they obviously enjoyed having me there once a week. i'm really going to miss them..