It is Day 9 of my 365 Days of Living Deliberately blog. Living deliberately includes a number of aspects of my life. It includes working to help educate the public, legislators, and others on environmental justice and pollution prevention issues, especially the issues of uranium mining, nuclear energy, and radioactive waste. It includes putting a manuscript package together for my book and looking for prospective publishers.
It includes my time spent with the daily chores of living — filling my wood stove and emptying out ashes, cleaning my house, doing my laundry, washing my car, putting away the few Christmas items I had brought down from the attic that remained stacked in the spare bedroom I still call Kyra’s room.
Living deliberately for me definitely includes my profession as an educator. For years I taught part-time English and reading to adults at a local community college. Presently, I teach art and writing to home and after-schoolers, and I tutor children, often English Second Language (ESL) children, including children from Egypt, Yemen, and China. I believe that positive reinforcement is the key to learning at all ages and that encouragement goes a long way to boosting confidence.
I love teaching at every level. I love teaching little Jelena who is six years old and in first grade. She is growing up in her parent’s Chinese restaurant and is there after school and in evenings. I got to know her by taking her paper and markers as well as books and figurines so that she could entertain herself during the long hours she spends at her family business. She is a lovely child, always dressed beautifully, often in striking pink and black that goes with her hair. Her mother wants the best for Jelena, and she has high expectations, but they are sometimes too high. She criticizes her daughter for sloppy writing. Jelena cries. I explain to her mother that Jelena is doing fine, that she is doing great, and there is no need, no value in criticizing her, but I never know how much English her mother really understands.
Today I brought Jelena several books: a children’s picture dictionary, a book for her class book report titled, Bella, about a bunny at a birthday party, a phonics and handwriting book, and her favorite, a Micky and Minnie Mouse book with 3-D glasses. She was elated! I plan on continuing to supply Jelena with books. She is so eager to learn, to read, to sound out words, to say each word excitedly, as if discovering a new world, “What’s that word,” she says softly as she points,, “Deborah, what’s that word?”
I am so fortunate to be able to teach children in a setting where they are always excited to be learning. I also teach a group of homeschool children from ages eight to fifteen. I teach English and art and anything else that is current. My art students have educated themselves on the uranium issue, some have attended public hearings, and all have contributed artwork with a statement about uranium mining. I will include some photos of the uranium posters done by my senior student, Kathleen, whom I see as the Andrew Wyeth of this century, in female form, of course. Her artwork of characters in a story she is writing is stunning.
I have also had the fortune of teaching, coaching, mothering my friend’s grandson. She and he are having a time-out from each other as he stays at a church-based children’s home while they both get help for themselves and their relationship. We took him there Monday, and I must say that I was feeling throughout the day as if I were living deliberately, seeing how the move could be a positive and pivotal point
in both of their lives.
I am fortunate to make a living at what is meaningful. For me, teaching is a gift of love that I get back from my students