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Hampton Roads Community News

‘Talking About Life’ With Jacox Elem. Students

By Ernest Lowery
Community Outreach Correspondent
New Journal and Guide

How do we get into the heads of our young children … I often hear. What make them tick when it comes to education on everyday life terms?
Dr. Byrnda E. Parker, a music teacher at Jacox Elementary in Norfolk, and I had several conversations in regards to this subject. She calls her class of 5th graders “The Panda Academy of Music.” It is a mindset upgrade from telling them they are enrolled in a regular old “music class.”

Our discussion prompted me to ask her if I could do something to help broaden the students’ horizon even further. No, I’m not a musician, and I can’t sing (I do sing when I’m alone, even then it’s not too well), but I do like to talk and share experiences.
Several weeks passed before it was decided through the last few phone calls what I would be allowed to share something with the students. Doing something different, hopefully, would raise their curiosity about what Black folk are doing in the world around them, and that we concerned adults are here at their fingertips. So on the second Tuesday in March, the plan came together; it was full steam ahead for 45 minutes.

I was about twenty minutes early for my 12 p.m. appointment. My first stop was checking in at Jacox’s office and getting my visitor’s name tag. Dr. Parker was informed that I had arrived, and we met in the hall at room #25. We pivoted and walked down to the auditorium, picked up the audio video equipment for my video presentation.
As the students filed in, everything was just about in place to start the conversation. Dr. Parker instructed some students to turn their chairs around for better eye contact with us and the video screen. After a great introduction, I was fired up and ready to go.

Perusing the classroom, I was witnessing an excitement and an anxiousness on most faces.
“How many of you know about the New Journal and Guide Newspaper,” I asked. Not one raised their hand …. this was expected from the 5th graders. (I know I’m speaking to the choir [you], NJG readers ….)

I gave a brief history of the paper and why it is important to at least pay attention to what the community is doing – positive or negative.
Then, I challenged them (this class) to pick a subject matter, investigate it and promised that at a later time, I would come back and collectively we would put together a story on it. Yes, the kids have a lot on their minds but some were interested in the idea of having something maybe different and positive to do. I’m only saying, where do we start when do we start to help mold our kids. I’m saying now!

But on that day, these kids were given a factual video glimpse of Ghana, Africa which I had prepared for them based on my visit to Ghana a few years ago. Almost every child raised their hand with questions about this vast beautiful land. However, there was a great misunderstanding about the value of the Motherland. Playfully (but seriously) there were questions like, “Do they take baths, wear Jordan sneakers, have cell phones, speak English and drink orange juice?” (Are you, reader, smiling, too?)
The 35-plus students were amazed and hungry for more information about this place called “Africa.” What they had heard or believed, and what I shared with them did not match up. (Many don’t know anything about Africa.)

One of the things I stressed to them was to learn to think for themselves and always, always, ask questions, and don’t be afraid to do what is right while striving toward success.
That day was a good day for all of us. I made time to share and give a little something back to the community that is starving for more. It was a wonderful thing to hear these kids talking outside of the box and sharing with each other.
The 45 minutes flew by so fast. During the video I saw kids having so much fun with their questions and their interacting together.
How do we get into the heads of our kids and talk about life? Maybe the lesson here is … learning is fun.
Each one reach one, each one teach one … the mind is a terrible thing to waste.

My Word For The Week:
The word for this week is sabbatical. Check it, use it!
Have a Happy Day …

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