To my Infinite Legacy Project and Akron After School (AAS) Educators:
I have had the privilege of seeing most of you in AAS classes in the past few weeks. It always fills my heart with joy to experience the thoughtful creativity — and simple caring — that goes on in our classrooms.
You often will not know the TREMENDOUS difference you make in the lives you touch. Let me share two examples of how profound the simplicity of this sharing can be:
When I was 16 years old my dear stubborn Dad had me do classes with the Parks & Recreation because he thought I needed “a dose of reality” from the rarefied world of ballet. All summer long I taught football players, rowdy children, and beginner adults. Throughout the experience a young boy would stand on the sidelines of whatever activity I was teaching, acting out and sneering. At the end of the summer, a truly horrible float I had made (I was also mysteriously in charge of visual art?!!!!) went out to embarrass me at a local parade. I sat down on the concrete steps to feel sorry for myself and that young boy sat down next to me and said: “Do you know, this is the BEST summer I ever had.” I think of him every time I teach a class.
Years later I was teaching in AAS. A young girl was a model student in our classes — helpful with younger students, hard working, and talented. One day this girl was listless and unhelpful as we lined up for a restroom break. When I asked her why she was tired she said: “I was up all night saying goodbye to my Dad. He went to J – A – I – L.” When I said, “I’m so sorry. How long will it be before you see him again?” She replied, “I’ll never see him again. . .”
Some of the burdens these children face are unimaginable to us. Your contribution changes all of that for the better. Never doubt that. When you’re having a bad day, remember that each smile, each dance step, each reinforcement of EACH INDIVIDUAL has transformative power.
The schools I visit always emphasize how wonderful your teaching is and how valuable — and valued. One teacher had had a difficult day the week previously and the site coordinators said to me: “The kids love her! She came in today and said ‘We’ll start from a new place.’ That’s what we do as teachers everyday. . .”
Thank you all for the infinite ways you make this happen. It becomes what we know as The Infinite Legacy Project.
I am truly grateful that each of you is a part of it. . .