My Tuesday morning Kindergarten class is wonderful, but they would rather tell me stories about their lives than listen to me read books about food and gardens. When I call on a child, most times their comment starts out relevant, but then it turns into a story about their family, their pet, or what happened at recess yesterday. One day, I finally promised to eat lunch with them once a week. Then they would have time to tell their stories, and class time could be dedicated to talking about fruits and veggies.
My first Kindergarten lunch was in early November, and I was in the throes of what FoodCorps likes to call the “adjustment phase.” Expectations for the year were shifting, and my confidence was not as high as I thought it would be as a returning Service Member. Needless to say, lunch with some of the school’s tiniest students was very uplifting.
During this lunch period, the teacher of that Kindergarten class approached me and listed ALL the other teachers who wanted programming. I felt mixed emotions. On one hand, I felt excited that the staff knew who I was and were enthusiastic about food education. On the other hand, I was already teaching enough classes to feel a little swamped. I replied that I couldn’t take on any more classes because, “there’s only one of me!”
Then, Delilah, the little girl sitting next to me, said in a quiet voice, “I wish I could help you teach,” and all her classmates sitting around the table piped up, “Me, too! Me, too!” After everyone quieted down, Delilah continued, “we could ALL help you, and then we could teach the WHOLE SCHOOL how to grow vegetables!”
I could barely say, “I appreciate that SO MUCH,” before running back to my office to cry tears of love and hope for the future. Not only had these students been listening to my lessons, but they had begun to feel empowered, so much that they wanted to share their new knowledge with their peers.
The moral of the story? Approach people with respect and kindness, and maybe we can teach the WHOLE WORLD to grow vegetables.