Someone noted: “To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere without moving anything but your heart.” I had the brief privilege today to watch a group of learners practice the art of letter-writing (a long forgotten skill for many of us). They were writing “letters of hope” and drawing pictures of possibilities to a group of students they have never met or talked with before now. Their classroom leader has a friend in Bastrop County whose entire classroom of learners have individually lost virtually every material possession in the wake of the recent Central Texas fires. During their “morning meeting” time, they discussed current events and the news about the Texas fires. Noted one child: “It’s some fire; some of us can’t go outside at recess here in Midlothian because of the smoke this week and we live far away from them.” Another commented: “I can’t imagine not being able to save my cat or dog.” An additional student shared: “My family lost everything in a fire three years ago; I know how this feels.” WOW–what a comprehensive sharing of feelings, ideas, and understanding during “morning meeting!”
The classroom leader asked what the class, as a whole, could do to assist them in moving beyond this horrible tragedy to a new possibility. Lots of intense discussion ensued (I could not be more proud even if everyone of these learners were my own child!). They chose to write letters of encouragement and hope. The child who had lived through a fire shared how important it was for her to hear from others: “not just the sharing of clothes or shoes, but some words of hope.” Her personal story sparked the idea for writing letters of hope.
My classroom visit this morning reminded me of the significance of something as simple as hope. Children are not jaded in the younger years; they see the light of hope in the midst of tragedy. They want to help; they need to take action and they do.
School is a forum sometimes for sharing important lessons in life and we, as educators, never take this responsibility lightly or irreverently. School is not always curriculum, assessment, recess, specials, lunch, and rules; school can be a place reflecting hope. After all, like towering trees in the midst of the forest, we stand on the shoulders of the previous generation; this generation will stand on ours in the near future. Sending a simple letter is indeed an extraordinary way to move a heart to hope. Here’s hoping you take the challenge to write a letter soon to someone in your life who might need a letter of hope!