As you may have gathered from previous posts, fifth grade was a momentous time. We were a motley crew of 28, but Ms. D was as fearless and enthusiastic a teacher as they come, and by the end of the year, our inner-city public school classroom was full of 11-year-olds ready to change the world. Ms. D encouraged the reluctant to love reading and the timid to speak up; she promoted artistic expression and common sense; she championed environmental stewardship, and turned at least one of us into the sort of person who will carry an empty bottle across the country to her home recycling bin if she can't find one while traveling.
Ms. D celebrated diversity, nurtured kindness, and advocated personal responsibility: lessons worth remembering always, but especially in these troubling times. She died six years ago, but I've been thinking of her a lot lately, so it felt particularly fortuitous to happen upon this copy of the second pledge we recited every morning of fifth grade. Unlike its patriotic counterpart, which was dulled by constant repetition, this one was delivered with gusto, each time; an inspiring chorus of 28 little voices, and one big one.
As a new school year kicks off here in these divided United States, against a backdrop of great turmoil, here's hoping that the voices of tolerance, big and small, soon prevail.