"I want you to bow your head and close your eyes. Raise your hand if...
People have made fun of you for what you were wearing?
People have made fun of you because you were different?
People didn't see you for who you really are?"
Immediately, there were raised hands all over the room. Middle school and high school students from Cunningham's Gerber School were asked these questions at the African American Read-In last Friday. Special guest reader was Stephanie Dockins, teaching assistant at Gerber School from 2011-2014.
Stephanie's selections have special meaning to her and she wanted students to make personal connections to the text. From her excerpt from Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, "I am aching with the need that I don't exist in the real world." Marcus, a high school student at Gerber, shared his own thoughts about feeling invisible and for people not seeing him for who he really is. Stephanie provided encouragement to him and the rest of the students, "The idea is that we should appreciate everyone we encounter. It can be complicated, but wonderful."
Middle school students listened to The Snowy Day (we've had a lot of them lately on Urbana's campus) and Tar Beach. In Faith Ringgold's Tar Beach, eight-year-old Cassie Louise Lightfoot expresses her wishes and dreams. Sarah, a middle school student, shared how her own life's circumstances will not keep her from dreaming her own dreams for her future.
Words of inspiration, words of encouragement, and words of hope. All found here on a Friday afternoon.
*All stories are real, however names are changed and photos selected to protect the privacy of our youth.