As we wrap up the school year, I have been reflecting on the education of students in our neighborhood. I am reminded how often we forget to talk about the amazing creativity and willingness to learn our kids possess in spite of a broken system.
As I have the chance to work with many students in our neighborhood, I get to see them as who they are: curious and energetic kids. To me, they aren’t different from any other student because of what they wear, who their parents are, or where they sleep at night. The kids in our neighborhood are talented, creative, and insightful students. Each one is a unique gift to our neighborhood.
Precious is full of energy and bursting with life. When she was eight years old, we were studying the brain together. She looked up at me and said, “Why are all the pictures of the brain drawings or cartoons? I want to see the real thing. Since that day, she has been fascinated with the inner workings of all living things. She is ready to learn and wants to see blood and guts in all their glory! What a gift!
Deja remembers everything. During reading club, a book mentioned kudzu. I asked the kids if they knew what kudzu was, and Deja’s hand shot up. Unfortunately, I called on her expecting the wrong answer. To my surprise, Deja answered, Kudzu is an invasive vine from Japan that mostly grows in the South. She only needs to hear something once and it is stored in her brain. What a gift!
Tyrell is one of the funniest eight-year-olds I know. He is quick-witted and sarcastic. He thinks abstractly, which is rare for his age. His math abilities are impossible to write about because I can’t understand them, but I do know he always gets the right answer. What a gift!
When we’re in relationship with children in the neighborhood, it can change the ways we see them. After spending time with the kids in Kensington, I see their gifts, their willingness to learn, and their abilities, which shine like any other student’s. I love them for who they are. Kids. Kids who have their own interests and abilities just like every kid.