Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A Special Thank You to @kwamealexander for Bringing Your Creative Magic to Connecticut Once Again! @FairfieldU @CWPFairfield

Kwame (Rooster) and Chitunga (Eagle)
Over a decade ago, a young man entered his first ESL class at Cesar Batalla, K-8, in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Now a graduate of Bassick High School and a student working on a career in accounting and economics, this young man returned to his formative alma mater to meet the one-and-only Kwame Alexander.

But there's another story. This one follows after the Rooster departed for a next stint in NYC.

I came home after a compelling afternoon of Surf's Up and Acoustic Rooster and His Barnyard Band, totally stoked to have a copy of Page to Stage Writing Workshop given to CWP-Fairfield, where I know I will benefit from it to model effective practices for teachers. Of course, I also had a copy of Booked autographed for Abu and Lossine!

The dog needed a walk, though, so the two of us went out for our four mile loop, galloping by Bunnell High School in Stratford where Glamis ran up to a group of three kids who were leaving the school after track practice. From behind, I believe Glamis thought it was Chitunga, Abu and Lossine and lucky for her they loved dogs. I asked, "You runners?" They said, "Yeah. We play basketball and football, too." I asked them what they were reading in school and they laughed. "Um, nothing. We hate reading." I inquired, "You like sports, right?" They agreed and I asked if they've heard of Kwame Alexander. They said, "Doesn't he play in the NBA?" I was like, "Sort of." And I told them about The Crossover. 

The next thing I know, one of the boys finds the book on his cellphone and shows his friend. The bigger kid - I imagine a shot-putter, says, "I only listen to books. Is it on .mp3." I imagined it was. "Will they have it in our school library?" They should. "What if they don't?" Go to the librarian and request it. "That's cool. We will."

When Glamis and I walked away, we heard one of the boys saying, "That book looks really good. I'm going to read it." The others agreed. I returned home to reflect on the day.

Wow. I am so thankful...so, so thankful... that Kwame happened to be passing by Bridgeport yesterday and that GSEAP at Fairfield University has a strong partnership with Cesar Batalla School in Bridgeport. We acted fast to arrange the workshop, and Vice Principal Steven Cassidy and Principal Hector Sanchez were stupendous All-Stars. The teachers were phenomenal 2nd and 3rd grade coaches, too.

Kwame arrived with teacher and musician Louis Preston and the rest was history. The two, 30-minute workshops simply rocked. No one who can present and build energy with an audience like Kwame Alexander.

Chitunga hears me celebrating Kwame Alexander all the time and he finally got to meet the writer face to face at the school where his American education began. I'm thrilled by the entire event: the laughter and appreciation of the young readers and writers, and the pride of their teachers. I trump all that happiness, however, with being able to introduce two of my favorite people in a location that is central to Chitunga's American beginning.

Ah, but I have to cut this short. It's time for me to go teach for the day, but there will be more pep in my step this morning. The surf really is up, and We gotta read! We gotta write! and We have to appreciate the Great Whatever.

Ubuntu. Kwame, thank you for gifting your talents to our world.

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