Friday, June 3, 2011

Wednesday's Child: Rebecca

I saw a public-service announcement recently about teachers and teaching. The gist of the spot was the plight of the middle child.

The teacher in the ad spoke of kids who grab our attention either through superlative dazzle or mind-bending ill behavior, and how those in the middle can be overlooked as a result.

Rebecca is one of those middle children.

I arrived in Rebecca's third-grade classroom to announce the Shakespeare Club for 2011, and Rebecca bounced out of her seat. Her leaping up made me smile. She didn't say a word but, as if she'd been waiting for this news, was up and alert like a bunny out of its hole.

When she auditioned for The Shakespeare Club, Rebecca stepped into the room and made her way to the actor's chair. She did her audition piece off-book. When I gave her a tiny adjustment, she listened and answered my request with a second efficient round.

I don't think Rebecca necessarily wanted to be in Shakespeare Club because she imagines a life onstage. If anything, Rebecca shies from the spotlight. But she wanted in the club nonetheless and proved herself to be the gold teachers sometimes overlook.

When chaos reigned — and it did (those boys, those boys...those ramped up boys) — Rebecca settled into her seat as if her composure would calm the room. As I raced to douse fires, I would catch her in my periphery and think, Thank God for Rebecca....She is reason personified.

Rebecca never threw her arm in the air asking to share her journal writing. In an effort to have her drum up the requisite courage, I made a suggestion around the time of her birthday.

"Rebecca, you know what I like to do on my birthday? Something I've never done before. Like maybe eat something new or walk someplace new or...I don't know...maybe read aloud from my journal or something."

I know. Tremendously sly on my part.

Rebecca nodded, took it in and said nothing.

Until the day she said, "Ms. Ryane, today....I'm reading from my journal today."

She did, it was lovely, we shared her courageous step, and she never did it again because she didn't need to.

Rebecca was proud of the club and our production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" because of the work of others. When showing her mom a collage of club photos, Rebecca pointed out funny, funny Peter. She insisted her parents avoid rehearsals and only see our final performances; she wanted them to see the other kids' work fresh. As rehearsals progressed, Rebecca focused her attention on the comedic hijinks of her peers. She giggled, her face behind her palm.

When Audrey broke her leg, it was Rebecca who walked her to the library, carrying her lunch box and filling me in on her progress.

"She's doing so well on the crutches, Ms. Ryane!"

"Audrey got her walking cast and she's practicing walking without crutches, Ms. Ryane!"

"Audrey will be able to do the dance, Ms. Ryane! She walked without the cane for a whole hour!"

What happens to Wednesday's children? Where do they go? What do they do in adulthood?

The actress who can stand in the limelight without craving it. The child who shows genuine compassion for others. The girl who celebrates the accomplishments of others with pure joy....Where should these people go?

Rebecca for President, I say.

If I had a life of advencher I would travle to grees. I have always wanted to go to grees because of the buityful stachuse and water fontens, and amazing stone work. Another place I would go would be Ozz (from the wizzred of Ozz) I would want to go to Ozz because I like the color green, and it just seems cool.
—Rebecca, 3rd grade

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