Laura Erickson's For the Birds

Monday, October 6, 2008

What are the chances?

I've been going through a rough patch for a while now, and that means I spend too much of my weekend evenings watching sad movies. Last night I watched Dead Poets Society. I was sobbing my heart out at the end, as first Ethan Hawke and then most of the other students bravely stood up on their desks in solidarity and love for their teacher. It's one of the best movie moments ever, even if some critics I love say it's just not realistic.

Anyway, the movie ended, I was still at that snuffling stage after crying too hard, and I check my email to find a letter from one of MY former students--Jane was a fun and lively sixth grader back in 1978 when I was teaching in Madison, Wisconsin. She's a teacher herself now, and her letter included this:

The other 5th grade teacher that I team with got a grant from the Tahoma Audobon Society to take 120 students on 4 field trips to the Morse Wildlife Preserve down the street from our school, so the past week we have been getting ready to go. I used your book "Sharing the Wonder of Birds with Children" everyday and the kids couldn't get enough of the activities. We drew a scientific diagram of a bird and labeled the parts, we drew the beaks and feet adaptations from your book, we were given a temporary permit and a loan of 7 stuffed birds so we compared them and drew them and the kids were all so engaged and excited. One of the stations at the Preserve is bird identifying and the kids will learn to record their results in ebird online as well as have a guest speaker talk to them about bird banding and bird counts.

Thanks to you, this is the one part of school I am loving teaching!! Thank you for giving me such a lifelong gift and sharing your passion and knowledge with so many people. Looking back on my elementary years, the only real memories I have are the ones I spent birding with you and I hope that I will impact my students to think a bit about the world we live in and how we should care for it the way you impacted me. Public teaching is getting harder each year with more and more of the curriculum mandated, but thanks to this grant and the knowledge I gained from you, an entire new generation of children may learn about the magical world of birds.
I'm still swelling with joy.