On April 23, 2015 I received a text from our Student Government Association President, Alex Dominguez, that read:
President Christian, a teacher from Bakersfield City School District (Owens Primary School) reached out and asked if I could help her find some community leaders to read to students on May 21 from 9:00-9:30. I won’t be able to attend however I wanted to check and see if you would be interested!
I took a peek at my calendar and thought I could rearrange my schedule and quickly texted back to Alex and said I could.
Then on May 4th I received this charming letter from Joyce Victor, Kindergarten Teacher.
I delighted in the presentation of the letter and made a quick note that the reading was a long ways away…..May 21st and today was only May 4th.
The next thing I know is that it is May 20th late afternoon and all I knew was that I was reading to a third grade gate class. What does that mean….. what do I read…. panic sets in. This is much more complex than presenting to a Chamber Breakfast event or even teaching calculus (i was a math faculty many years ago). And then I remembered meeting Krista Bolton, wife of BC Assistant Football Coach Reggie Bolton, at a recent football event. I also remembered that Krista taught third grade. YES! There is a God watching over me and taking care of me.
Krista came through in a big way, steering me to author Patricia Polacco’s autobiographical book “Thank You, Mr. Falker” — and arranging for a copy I could borrow. What was quite amazing was the time and care she put into finding the right book for me. This included conversations with her colleagues and discussing the pros and cons of several books, checking Target, then Barnes and Nobles to try to purchase the book for me since she did not have it with her at home. When she could not find the book readily available for purchase, she arranged to rendezvous with me at her school, early morning on May 21st, so she could get it from the library for me.
I took in the wonderful story — and immediately fell in love with the book, which truly captures the impact a wise and caring teacher can have on a young student.
In the story, a young girl named Trisha is thrilled at the thought of learning how to read, but gets discouraged when she finds the printed page seems to be nothing more than a jumble of letters and numbers.
Mocked as a dummy by her classmates, Trisha eventually comes to the attention of Mr. Falker, who not only recognizes the young girl’s artistic talent, but also her reading difficulties and the sad and mounting frustration she feels. The teacher makes it his mission to help Trisha overcome her problems and finally truly enjoy the world of reading for the first time.
Krista couldn’t have made a better suggestion.
And Mrs. Mitchell and her two dozen third-graders couldn’t have been more welcoming or the children more connected to the heartwarming story.
It’s so satisfying for me to not only tell such a lovely story about the joy and importance of reading, but imparting that message to those engaged, happy young faces in such a powerful way made for an enriching morning that I won’t soon forget.
Before my time with the children, I was happy to have my first face-to-face meeting with Bakersfield City School District Superintendent Dr. Robert Arias.
Rob and his fine team at the district have been doing some fantastic work getting all those enthusiastic young minds excited about learning and their futures, so it was great to have some time with him to talk about BCSD.
Thanks so much to Dr. Arias, Bessie Owens School, and to Mrs. Mitchell and her top-notch class for a truly fabulous day! And thank you Krista Bolton for getting me the best book ever.