humans can be amazing, and a BIG thank you

yesterday evening, driven by sheer panic over not having enough high-quality books for my classroom, I set up a project on DonorsChoose – a charity that lets teachers create projects that will help their students succeed. for me, that was getting some books that would infect my kids with a love of reading.

when i was a kid, it was a running joke that if i was reading a book, i’d probably not hear a word that you said, even if that word was “dinner” – i was happiest curled up with a book, escaping into pages familiar and unknown, placing myself so thoroughly into the worlds crafted by authors that i would have dreams about being in those books. i was super-awkward in elementary school, and books were my friends – but not in a “oh god, that kid is pathetic” way (at least, not from my teacher POV now. as a kid, i think it’s safe to say i was maybe that weird girl who other kids didn’t know how to interact with…). reading was my inroad to loving learning. it took until college to learn how to ask good questions and dig deep and all that jazz, but reading (and writing) are two things that i cannot imagine life without.

so part of why i want to teach is to get kids to find joy in reading, because it’s pretty fabulous.  i’ll be working with a lot of struggling readers, and so part of being the teacher my students deserve is finding ways to help them get into reading – and want to improve their reading skills (fluency and comprehension – those things that are ingrained in so many of us that teachers, in fact, have to teach and model in the beginning of a child’s reading life). getting books at their level that are still well-written, beautifully illustrated, and tell great stories? that’s huge.

today at 2:43 my DonorsChoose project went live. by 7:21, as i was about to chop an onion, my phone dinged, and i saw that my project was fully funded. this was just after a phone call from my mom, alarmed that she could only donate $10.95 – because that was all that was left to donate for my project.

y’all. i burst into tears. happy, happy tears.

to pull from something i said to a friend shortly after: i can be really bitter about a lot of things that people do. i get catcalled whenever i go outside, i have driven on 395 AND 66 in rush hour traffic and witnessed the insanity of people, people are cruel to others on a daily basis, racists are the worst, and on and on. there is a lot of evidence that humans are just terrible.

but then. i realize, when something this freaking amazing happens, that for every aggressive idiot with a car, for every bile-spewing racist, there are hundreds, thousands, millions of people who are, at their cores, good. people i’ve never met donated to this project to help my students learn to love to read. and other people were clamoring to donate as well, and even donated gift cards for me to put towards my next project.

so i cried. not because i’m sad, though possibly influenced by hormones. because i’m really profoundly happy. and because people can be amazing. and this is a really lovely thing to remember, to tuck away for a day when i’ve sat in traffic and been creeped on by creepy dudes and had someone say something hideous to my boyfriend on twitter – that yea, the bad ones stand out like a big zit, but the good ones – the wonderful ones – are everywhere, and their actions are just a bit quieter, but even more powerful.

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