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Archive for the ‘education’ Category

A former first grade student of 50 years ago, got in touch to thank me for teaching her how to read and for adding literature to her life. I sat stunned thinking, “I taught her to read. Imagine that.”

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My heart kept busting all over. Four of my Kindergarten students from Laupahoehoe School came to my book signings, all grown up. I was a green teacher at age 25, when I had the privilege of being their K teacher. I followed them up to first grade. Thank you, Harvey, Sandra, Doreen at my Hilo signing and Sandi, at my Honolulu signing. Harvey was quiet who looked at me with soulful eyes, Sandra W came into the classroom like thunder, Doreen sat like a lady with her long eyelashes. Sandi smiled shyly. ( Her dad remembers me as a quiet teacher).

It was from this class that I got the title of my book: Teacher, You Look Like a Horse. I had spent all morning fixing my hair in a French braid when one of them rushed into the classroom, looked at me and said, “Teacher, you look like a horse.”

teacher

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In today’s front page of our paper, a story of how kids from a public school here were called Asian racist names during a basketball game.
This is not the first time these girls were taunted with racial slurs…being yelled “Soy Sauce!” Go Back to Fiji!”, “Small Eyes!”, “You’re Ugly!”
A Japanese father who was there told the Bee on-line, how his grandfather was interned, his father was in the Army during WWII so their children wouldn’t
be treated with such indignities.  I wrote the following to the authors of this story. Whether they will publish or not is a ?.

Dear Ms. Locke and Mr. Lindelof
My gratitude to you for the story in the Bee this morning.

Would be you be able to direct this to Letters to the Editor?

Do you think unkindness and inhumane behavior that have been so carefully or so carelessly taught in these youngsters can be unlearned?
When I was in high school, these students drove us Japanese girls to use scotch tape to make our eyes look bigger for  that ” Caucasian  double eyes look” to avoid
taunts of “Jap”  and “Slant Eyes”. I am saddened and furious that these youngsters have not gone away and are still here in El Dorado Hills.

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Is there a Santa Claus

 

Wendy was a former third grade student who pushed me to teach her. “Teach me everything  you know,” she said, when she discovered I was keeping my curriculum geared to the 8 or 9 year olds. “I can’t do that, “ I told her. “Some things need to be learned when you’re older.”

 

A year later, a 4th grader then, she stood at my classroom door during recess with an entourage of students behind her. “Miss Kakugawa,” she began, “Is there a Santa Claus?” The look on her face, especially in her eyes, gave me my answer. The smirk on some of the children’s faces who stood behind her also gave me my answer.

 

During the holidays, grades K-6, I read The Polar Express to the class and gave each child a Christmas bell. During Halloween, I read Roald Dahl’s The Witches* and passed out candy.

In between the holidays, I read The Borrowers. I tried to bring magic into the curriculum through literature.

 

Is there a Santa Claus? I looked at Wendy and said,” I believe in Santa Claus so for me, there is a Santa Claus. When you believe in something, it becomes real.”

 

She turned around to the kids and said, with two hands on her hips, “See?”

Smirks disappeared and they all disbanded with Wendy walking  with  longer strides.

I tried to teach her everything I knew.

 

*Another student’s account of this is found in my Teacher, You Look Like a Horse.

Maybe I’ll post her reactions later if you’re interested. Let me know…

 

 

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To: 100 educators at the first National Connected Superintendent Summit to expand technology in the classroom at the White House summit.

 

Won’t you please pack the following poem in your head on your way to Washington? Remember, once we lose the humanity, we lose it all.

 

To Children of the 21st Century

 

How do you keep your fingers so free of dirt?

How do you come in from play without

Mud on your feet, your clothes, your cheeks?

How do you not even sweat?

 

How do you live without giving eye contact

To the person sitting in front of you?

How do you spend time with your friend

Without conversation?

 

Oh Children of the 21st Century,

Why is there silence in a room filled

With family on this holiday?

How did you become so mute?

 

Do you know how rain feels

Soaking your shirt to your skin?

The smell of sea salt in your hair

After a dip in the sea?

 

Have you watched a little seed

Pushing its first breath

Out of soil you’ve patted down

A few weeks ago?

 

Can you see a cardinal, a mynah,

A crow, with your eyes closed, listening

To their signature songs they sing out to you

In your own back yard?

 

Do you know the feel of your grandpa’s grip

Warm and strong in your hand?

The story behind that long scar that runs

The length of his arm?

 

Do you ever count clouds, lying

On soft green grass, laughing

Over silly stuff shared with a friend?

Do you ever cry over a child starving

 

In Africa or in your neighborhood?

Feel upset over trees being cut

For freeways and shopping malls,

Fancy sports arenas?

 

Have you ever used the eraser

At the end of a pencil,

Writing a poem, a song, a story.

A thank you note?

 

Do you know the feel of crisp

New pages of a book, as they unfold

Moving plots, faster than your impatient

Fingers can follow your eyes?

 

Oh, Children of the 21st Century,

Forgive us, for what we have done.

 

© Frances Kakugawa

 

 

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WW with notepad

The Suzume No Gakko Summer School in San Jose

invited me to speak to their students in grades 1 – 6,  on being an author. It was to captive audiences that I   shared stories on how my Wordsworth books were written. But when Wordsworth made a surprise visit, the stage became all his.

Wordsworth was pretty excited and it looks like he shaved off his whiskers that morning. One alert first grader brought it to his attention.

WW's tail

Wordsworth promised to dance the waltz with everyone at his next visit.

 

Ww with kids

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A Caregiver’s Workshop over Apple Martini

 

After spending all morning at the AARP conference, friend  Elaine and  I went to the Pineapple Room at Macy’s for lunch. Fortunately, as it turned out, there were no tables but the bar was open.

 

I love sitting on bar stools; it makes me feel wicked. I ordered an Apple Martini ( the best in town) and  a salad. Soon a man sat next to me. He noticed the leis around my shoulder and asked if I were celebrating a birthday. “No,” I explained, “I just gave a lecture at the AARP conference.”

 

And now the most unique “pick up” began, not by one but by two. Since I’m no longer 25, this is the best I can expect in this game of “pick up.”

 

Our conversation led to his story of his wife struggling with caring for her father with dementia.

I sensed all the loopholes so began a mini-workshop. A woman next to him leaned over and said, “I didn’t mean to eavesdrop but I’m caring for my sister who has Alzheimer’s.”

 

So over my Apple Martini, I gave a condensed version of what I had covered earliar at the conference. They took my business card and hope to read my books on caregiving. The stranger said, as we left, “This was meant to happen. Thank you. ”  Yeah, but he didn’t pay for my drink.

 

Elaine said, “This is way better than sitting at a table in a restaurant. This would never have happened outside of a bar.” Elaine paid for my martini lunch.

 

 

 

 

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