Sunday, April 27, 2008

Artist in Residency

During the past week, I've had the opportunity to work with 7th graders at a school in Maryland. Spencer and I team teach during the day, and then Bridget and I co-direct them in the afterschool program. I think 7th grade has got to be one of the most interesting times in a child's life.

The children are energetic, entitled, fun, crazy, smart, sweet, open, vulnerable--and crazy. The girls giggle over Spencer. They've all got massive crushes on him. And the boys want to be able to tell their friends that he's their buddy. And Spencer of course knows this, so he'll very coolly high five them as their friends are watching and treat them like adults, rather than acting like he's the teacher and their his students. It's been very fun to watch.

As for me--I'm not quite as cool as he is--but I still have my adoring fans. I have such powerful memories from 7th grade. Our boss told us that we would find ourselves in the crowd and that we had to be careful not to favor ourselves--but I honestly haven't found me yet. I was the new girl, who was pretty and awkward. I was smart, but sort of shy--but not. I never ever felt pretty, but as I look back at pictures, I see that I was at some point in my life, pretty good looking.

Basically, I'm the same now as I was back then.

It's just easier for me to be the teacher and try and learn everyone's names so that I can say hi to them in the hallway.

I'd like to paint some brief portraits of these students, just so you can see how my life has been enriched this past week. I won't call any of the students by name for fear that I say anything that might embarass them.

Josh--the little goth. He never comes to school. He missed the first two days of the residency, but when he came, Spencer immediately had him play Puck. He understood everything. He came everyday after that. The teacher told us that it was a miracle that he was there 3 days in a row. He struck me as a brilliant child, so innocent and so filled with wisdom. Spencer and he looked like brothers, since Spencer has this gothish black hair going on right now. He looked happy to be at school. And that was a little miracle.

Jenny--girl in the wheelchair. You can see her smile from a mile away. I noticed the first day that she had a difficult time operating her wheel chair, so i wasn't sure if she was able to speak. We found out later that she was in the paralyzed condition because of a massive stroke. I waved to her in the hallway, and she said hi back! So we cast her as Titania, Queen of the Fairies during our last day of playing. She was wonderful and she floated across the room in her wheelchair with a beautiful smile on her face. Her radiant happiness in the face of such a trial was my own personal miracle.

Harry and May--so much talent in such tiny packages! Harry is so small and kind of reserved. When I think about it, Harry is the child that reminds me of myself. He's so serious, but when he acts--he puts his whole heart into it. He's from Brazil. We cast him as Oberon and he will go off and work by himself and perform his scenes memorized for us. He's wonderful! And soooo small! His Titania is also a very small girl, but she takes her part so seriously. They have such giant personalities. It seems like everyone else has this awkward teenage thing going on--but these two are timeless.

There are so many wonderful stories to share. It's been such a joy to work in the schools with the kids. And don't get me started on these wonderful teachers. They are saints!!


Ace said...

I loved teaching 7th graders. They were still at an age where they were afraid of the teachers and they hadn't quite become jaded yet. How wonderful that you get to team teach with Spencer.

Eve said...

It's been really great! He's great with the kids. I really like the little buggers. How are you doing? I've been reading your blog faithfully!