Tuesday, February 3, 2015


So many silenced ones.
So many stories waiting to be told.

Early January.
The quarter changes and the music teacher
puts up a new bulletin board.
Eighth grade photographs.
Memories of their time at our school.
"What will you be remembered for?" the music teacher asks.
"I don't think anyone will remember me," says A
on the paper hanging beneath his picture.
And I feel sad
that this kid
who has been at our school
since kindergarten
thinks no one will remember him.
He has stories waiting to be told. 

Friday morning
I am escorting the sixth grader
back to class
after a meeting
We talk about the weather,
yesterday's basketball game
and the upcoming soccer season.
I know his dad is a coach
and I ask if he will be playing.
No, he says, that's baseball season.
"Do you play baseball?" I ask.
"Yeah," he says proudly.
"Really? What position?"
"I'm a pitcher," he says,
and the smile extends ear to ear.
I wonder how I could have known this child for three years
And not have known this
clearly important fact.
He has stories waiting to be told.

Friday afternoon.
I am at my assigned post
passing out cell phones after school.
The fifth grader, new to our school,
comes to pick up his phone.
I ask if he has any plans for the weekend.
"I'm gonna go with my dad," he says.
"We sell corn."
"Corn?" I ask.
"Yeah, my dad roasts it in the garage
and then we go to a church and sell it in the parking lot.
We do it every weekend.
At least one hundred pieces."
"Every weekend?" I say.
"Yeah, my dad works other jobs too,
building apartments,
but we do this on the weekend.
And I wonder whether anyone else knows
about this budding entrepreneur.
He has stories waiting to be told.

I watch her at the basketball game.
An eighth grader. New last year.
Sweet. Quiet. Absent a lot.
Last year she ate lunch every day
with her older sister.
This year she has made friends
with another new student
who plays on the basketball team.
Today she has come to cheer for her best friend.
She does not sit with the other students
on the stage at the end of the gym.
Instead she stands alone
no one invites her to sit with them.
No one calls her over.
She has stories waiting to be told.

She comes to find me every day at lunch recess.
A big girl. Almost six feet. Probably over two hundred pounds.
Slow thinking. Slower talking. No friends.
"Miss," she says shyly. "Do you like crafts?"
I laugh. "I'm not very good at that kind of stuff," I say.
"Do you?"
"I love them," she says.
"You do? You'll have to bring something to show me."
A few days later she brings a handful of rubber band art.
She pulls twenty or thirty
rings, bracelets, key rings
out of her pocket.
"A dollar apiece," she says.
"Which ones do you want?"
And we become fast friends.
Craft partners.
She has stories waiting to be told.

So many silenced ones.
So many stories waiting to be told. 


Michelle said...

Beautifully captured.

So many silenced ones.
So many stories waiting to be told.

Connecting and building a relationship with a teacher like you will help them know and share their stories. And to be somebody that has stories.

I love this slice and will notice and listen for those stories tomorrow at school.

Beverley Baird said...

Your post moved me so much. Too many of these children are lost, ignored. A beautiful poem!

L Romaine said...

Wow. I don't know if I can look at my intervention students, or any in the school actually, without that overlay, that haunting line...So many stories waiting to be told.

I liked the portraits you made of these young people. Simple, elegant and powerful.

Ramona said...

Carol, this post is so tender. It makes me wonder about the stories waiting to be told from the students who attend my after school book club. So many stories waiting to be many wonderful people like you wanting to listen.

Judy said...

You've inspired the rest of us to unearth these stories. Well done.

Tabatha said...

Nicely done, Carol. Makes me want to listen harder.

Linda B said...

I loved hearing the stories you told about these students, Carol. We do miss them don't we, and even more, we need them so we can teach well. Thanks for reminding us to look for the stories.

Kristi Lonheim said...

So true that everyone has a story to tell! The eighth grader breaks my heart. Really? Been there since Kindergarten and feels invisible. Uh-oh!

Unknown said...

This is so beautiful. Taking the time to observe carefully is important, and yet so easy to forget, or pass up, or just not do for so many "good" reasons. Thank you for the reminder to know more of the important stuff.

Elisabeth Ellington said...

Beautiful post, Carol. Will be sharing with my pre-service teachers.

writekimwrite said...

How tenderly you painted a portrait of each child. You noticed and cared about their stories. This is probably the most important part of teaching, valuing each individual and so many days it gets squeezed out! You have given me a powerful model and incentive not to let that happens. This touched my heart.