Guest blog by: Laura Benson, Executive Director of Durham's Partnership for Children
Earlier this month, I spent the morning in Katie Stockton’s kindergarten class at Maureen Joy Charter School. Ms. Stockton is a Teach for America corps member, and I was invited to present a lesson during Teach for America week. Despite extensive public speaking experience, my anxiety increased in an inverse proportion to the size and age of this audience – it is a small class of 5- year-olds. My anxiety was sky high!
With the assignment of sharing something about myself and inspiring the children through things that I love, I chose the theme of running. The students, aptly called “scholars” when addressed as a group by their teacher, were attentive, curious, engaging, and thoughtful. After a show and tell of race medals (for participation, not for prize, in case you mistook this for a boast) and calculating the number of runners in a given race based on my bib numbers, I read Jamie Lee Curtis’ The Great Human Race. The scholars then shared examples of ways they work together, rather than compete against each other. The large lettered “Team Work” sign on the wall behind me was the ideal backdrop. “Walking with urgency” to their table groups, the scholars filled in a picture of a “compliment jar” with carefully lettered words and sentences, lavishing praise on their classmates.
After sharing again in the larger group circle about ways they help their families and make their community better, they signed their names to the shirt I’ll wear in my next running event – namely, The Great Human Race on March 29th. I left the gift of a real “Compliment Jar” for their classroom, knowing they will easily fill it up with supportive shout-outs as they learn and grow together.
All hands shot up in response to my question of who runs fast, so having their names on my shirt will inspire me tomorrow during the Great Human Race. Thanks to my kindergarten friends, I will strive to reach my potential, to “run with urgency,” and to make a positive difference in the world - not just tomorrow – but every day.
All proceeds raised by the Partnership in the Great Human Race will go towards dental health kits. You can read more about our efforts to address Durham’s dental health crisis here. We set out to reach triple the number of children as last year by raising $3,000, and thanks to your help, we are making great progress. But we need your help in order to “run with urgency” and cross the finish line! Please visit our team page to donate, and cheer us on as we race for healthy smiles tomorrow morning in the Great Human Race!