When I cleaned out my office in the Discovery Lab a few weeks ago, there was really only one folder that I knew I needed to bring home with me: my collection of thank you letters from former students, drawings from kid friends, and random pieces of kid art that I couldn’t bear to toss out over the years.
Often times, my office in Science Playground felt like a drop-in social hour for regulars, both kids and their parents. No matter what I was doing, I always made a point of stopping and spending some time with my kid friends, to show them that they mattered to me, no matter how busy I was. I was so blessed to have bosses who understood that I considered playing with children to be my number one responsibility.
My supervisor would often stop in to say hi between meetings, and find me holding court at the playdough table, or embroiled in serious game of chipmunks versus eagles in the forest area.
Every once in a while, I’d find a present from Emmett waiting on my desk. Emmett was a three and a half year old boy who was somewhat of a regular in Science Playground. The first time I met him, I discovered that he was really, really into sea creatures. We bonded over the Sea Life discovery box, discussing different kinds of sharks and shells. A few weeks after that first meeting, he came back in with his mother and presented me with this drawing that he had made for me. His wonderful mother had transcribed his story for him..
Another responsibility that I took very seriously was the job of teaching kindergarten science classes to homeschool students. The first year that I was teaching at OMSI, I practically begged Annie not to make me lead the classes, because I had terrible stage fright and would often forget what I was trying to say, in the middle of speaking!
Luckily, the kids were exceedingly tolerant of my tangents and, by the second year of teaching, I really started to have fun with it! By year 4, I knew many of the families in our program quite well, sometimes having taught a different sibling every year. It will take another blog post to express everything I learned from those homeschool families, so until then, here are some of the mementos that I kept from those students.