Singing My Song

Today I'm excited because the leaf-sized hearts, filled with the things we're grateful for, are filling up this tree in the entrance to our school. 
The most beautiful, heartfelt things. 
Families & friends. 
Sunshine & rain. 
God & Jesus. 
Gratitude, from the bottom of our students' hearts. 
I can't wait to share a picture of it once it's complete.

I'm also eager to share this recap of my visit to
Charlotte Anderson Elementary in Arlington, Texas, last week.

I arrived on Thursday evening in time for Family Character Night. Picture the scene: 50 families coming together for dinner, for a singing performance by their kids, and for some time with an author and character educator, me. The coolest part is that those angelic voices were singing one of my songs. 
On stage. 
To me.
I wish you could have been there to hear them singing my song, 
the one called Talk, Walk, Then Tell
set to the music of The Chicken Dance:

If a bully bothers you, 
and you don't know what to do,
out at recess or in school,
talk, walk, then tell.

I'll be a buddy, not a bully.
I'll be a friend and take a stand.
I can swarm or go get a grown-up,
so we can all lend a helping hand.

What an honor, to have those superheroes singing my song. It was a hard act to follow, that's for sure. For my part of the program, I chose to read aloud Maria Dismondy's Chocolate Milk Por Favor, and intersperse the text with a few of my other poems, ditties, and songs. I drew a parallel between my story about Carlos (how he came to live on our farm not knowing a lick of English and how his predicament taught me empathy) and Gabe in Maria's masterpiece. When I'd finished, a young boy came to thank me, and his mom shared that that was his story just two years prior, coming to America to school and not speaking the language. Then she asked if she could take a picture of her children with me. 
Be still my beating heart.

Friday was equally as heartwarming. I played my ukulele as students arrived at school. They'd stop to talk - Thank you for the music. - and ask questions - Do you get paid to play that for us? and more questions - Wait, are you the author? And I felt right at home, in my element. 

Kindness: The writing's on the wall at CAE.
Routines changed a bit that morning because the school was on an early dismissal schedule that day but it didn't seem to phase the kiddos one bit. I met them in the gym where they were sitting respectfully and the Art teacher and I led an impromptu ukulele-guitar sing-along using the song You Are My Sunshine. Such an AmAzInG way to launch into a fantastic Friday!

Don't you love the kid-friendly LOOK?
I spent two hours with the Character Crew before being interviewed by this Viking News Network Crew. Here are two excerpts from that time with them; prepare to be WoWed by these articulate budding reporters.

I truly could have visited with them all afternoon, without question. After their dismissal and our lunch, I led a two-hour afternoon session with the staff on school climate. Before I was whisked away to the airport, I was given a very special gift, one that I'll never forget. The CAE school family has commissioned a Buddy Bench to be built and installed on their playground in my honor. Such a generous gesture of caring, support, kindness, enthusiasm and love.

Oh yeah, they're singing my song alright.

Who's singing your song?

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