Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Hajar is WONDERFUL!!

"It is not by accident that the happiest people are those who make a conscious effort to live useful lives. Their happiness, of course, is not a shallow exhilaration where life is one continuous intoxicating party. Rather, their happiness is a deep sense of inner peace that comes when they believe their lives have meaning and that they are making a difference for good in the world." ----Ernest A. Fitzgerald

Once upon a time there was a music-lady that wrote a song, while her husband-the-pilot landed their plane over Lake Michigan on a day that had suddenly turned gloriously sunny. The clouds had parted. She thought it was wonderful. She thought it was marvelous. She thought it was beautiful and magical..... and suddenly she thought of children, filled with curiosity!! She wrote the seven words on the back of an envelope and heard a little tune, too.

That sequence of words was recorded onto her first cassette tape back in the stone age. Annette Sheldon, the children's librarian turned picture book author, suggested adding sign language during performances as she had used the book with teenage mommies, feeling it was a good teaching tool.

Teachers started having their children sing the little song for Thanksgiving Feasts, Mother's Day Teas and preschool graduation ceremonies. Then one day the music lady started making quilted illustrations from fabric, to bring the words to life in picture book format. A quantum leap forward for the little song "You're Wonderful" as it was now a hard back book!

Then another day the music-lady was speaking in Michigan and a buoyant, young teacher envisioned using the repetitive song as a bridge for her kindergarten children, none of whom spoke any English when the year started. So many children. So many languages. Winter turned to spring. A little girl named Hajar used magic markers to draw her ideas and a pencil to write her response to the statement: If I had a pet it would be a _______ (fill in the blank) brfli (butterfly) because __________________ (fill in lots of blanks.)

"If I had a pet it would be a brfli, because thay are bufl and magikil and fild with kroste and drems. And thay are marbilis."

That buoyant, bubblie young teacher read Hajar's writing and immediately knew that the music-lady would be THRILLED to know of Hajar's independent and seriously amazing response. Facebook messages were excitedly exchanged and Hajar's parents gave permission for the writing to be sent through the mail to land on the music-lady's desk.

Tears well in my heart as I ponder the fact that a simple idea was born from my experience and has now traveled beyond my own personal efforts to impact children from around the world. It is safe to say that the issues inherent in self esteem -- cross boundaries, cross languages, cross cultures. What a gift to see how the words of my song, of my book have come to live in Hajar's mind & imagination, as evidenced by her own writing, in her own lovingly invented, second language spelling.

When I ponder the concept of legacy, of my legacy in particular, I rejoice in knowing I've made an impact, by literally seeing my string of words expressed in Hajar's handwriting. The big wide world just got a little smaller and I was a part of constructing that bridge.

****Huge hugs of gratitude to Kristen Valenti-Horak of Detroit, who I am nominating for a teacher of the year award. In the ensuing flurry of FB messages, Kristen shared with me how the vocabulary of my song became the culture of her classroom. She shared instance upon instance of observing one child's act of kindness being met with the sign for 'wonderful' from a peer. She further observed the shared twinkle in both sets of eyes as a common denominator of a shared language was being built on lyric of my song at a time.

The power of music. The power of song. The power of affirmation. The power of sign language. The power or writing. The power of children. The power of teachers. The power of recognition. The power of story-telling cybernetically. The power of legacy.

Thank you forever for sharing Hajar's work. I will have it framed. It already has been added to my power point presentation!!

Thanks for your support! I am so appreciative of your pins!

Thanks for your support! I am so appreciative of your pins!
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