So last week was the first week for the afterschool program at the Crozer Library in Chester, and, needless to say, I was super nervous the whole time leading up to it. Nervous that the tutors would miss the 3:30 van. Nervous that the library wouldn’t have any of the supplies I requested. Nervous that no kids would show up. Nervous, essentially, that this whole idea was ridiculous and who was I to start something new?
However, God is so good, and I think I often (if not all the time) forget that. I could not have asked for a better first week. On Tuesday, all of the tutors showed up early for the 3:30 van. We arrived at the library before it was even 4, and just as we were starting to do a quick “get to know you” in the community room, Kim, the reference librarian, came in to tell me that the library had been inundated with donations of supplies all week long. Now all I needed was for the kids to come…
And come, they did! We had ten really amazing kids the first day of the program. Most needed help with homework, so a few of the tutors worked with them. Another tutor read book after book to a four-year old brother and his two-year old sister, and a couple of others went in the community room to prepare snacks for the Back to School Night on Thursday. Meanwhile, I was figuring out how to get kids engaged in my project for the day, building catapults.
One first grader, a homeschooler, who I had seen in the library almost every day this past summer, came in and I decided to have him help me. We sat down on the carpet in the children’s section, and I laid out all of the supplies for the catapult in front of us: popsicle sticks, clothespins, rubber bands, plastic spoons, and scotch tape. This is what the catapult was “suppose” to look like: http://www.busybeekidscrafts.com/Easy-Catapult.html. However, I couldn’t get the internet to work on my computer, so I decided that we would try to figure it out sans directions. “Progressive education” at its unintentional best. After going through several different ideas together, Isaiah (That’s not actually his name. I changed it for privacy reasons.) came up with the final solution. Two platforms of five popsicle sticks, with the clothespin, and spoon attached. After taping everything together, he placed the cotton ball on the spoon, and hit the clothespin off the platform. It worked! The cotton ball catapulted through the air! As soon as the other kids saw this, they rushed over to the carpet and asked if they could build one too. The enthusiasm was contagious. Soon the other tutors were joining in, asking if they could build catapults as well.
I could say a lot more about this small project we built on the carpet, about how it instilled a sense of discovery, a sense of accomplishment, or, most importantly, a sense of engagement and collaboration with others, but for now, I’ll leave it at this: at that moment, in all of its chaotic clarity, I knew it was God telling me something. I’m meant to be a teacher.