When We Think Hope-ishly
By Liz Morgan, Start Smart Workgroup Chair
On October 21st at 10 AM, I stepped into Ms. Morrow’s classroom at Idalou Elementary School and was welcomed by a classroom of 19 very excited 2nd graders. After everyone went around the room and introduced themselves, they joined me on the rug at the front of their classroom for a reading of “Ish” by Peter H. Reynolds. This is a sweet and inspiring story about a young boy who loves to draw but is discouraged that his works never look exactly right. He is inspired when he sees his artwork through his sister’s eyes and beings to draw and experience his life “ishly ever after”.
The kids asked engaging questions about the illustrations, and we talked about how the main character might be feeling at different parts of the story. Then everyone went back to their desks, and we used pipe cleaners to make our own ish artwork and crayons to draw what hope-ish means to each of us.
These kids created family-ish, flower-ish, racecar-ish, and lots of jewelry-ish. Hope-ish looked like flying pizza, their best friend that moved away, and even a full narrative about a time they broke their mom’s favorite vase but were ultimately forgiven. Everyone got to take home their handmade crafts, but also their very own copy of the book.
One of Lubbock Area United Ways priority areas is education; specifically, that all children are school-ready by kindergarten and grade level readers by 3rd grade. In 3rd grade students go from learning to read, to reading to learn. Statistics show that children who haven’t learned the basics of reading by 3rd grade will likely fall behind in other subjects and it makes it more difficult to catch up. My volunteer experience with Ms. Morrow’s class was part of an initiative United Way started to help promote the importance of grade-level reading and get students excited about reading.
I left with many hugs, a custom pipe cleaner bracelet from a new friend, and my heart overflowing. I am just one of more than 400 volunteers that came together to read to approximately 3,600 second-graders in 119 classrooms in the 9 school districts in Lubbock County. And of course, this event would not be possible without our Start Smart sponsors: Amerigroup, Atmos Energy, Betenbough Homes, Covenant Children’s, First United Bank, and United Supermarkets. I feel so lucky to have been able to participate in United We Read this year and am looking forward to opportunities to participate again next year. Thank you to everyone who volunteered, and all of the teachers and students who participated!