Every Thursday morning I volunteer at my local elementary school. I meet one-on-one with a handful of students for my first 30 minutes in the building, then teach a “supplemental lesson” (of my own design) to a second-grade class. Last week I was quite ill, so I drove to the school just long enough to drop off my lesson plan and the supplies the teacher would need to complete the project with the kids herself. (The teacher had asked me to develop a lesson around a Valentine’s Day “card catcher” – so I created a lesson that discussed why caring for other people is important [i.e., the “real meaning” of Valentine’s Day], then went into the importance of planning [a task difficult for eight-year-olds to do – they usually want to jump both feet first into whatever fun project is at hand], and then went into creating a t-shirt sack that the kids would decorate [which would serve as their card collection device come Monday].)
This week I am feeling much better (thank goodness!), and arrived at the school at my usual time. When I walked into the classroom, the teacher handed me what looked like a white pillow-case. I took it from her, with a perplexed look on my face. She then explained, “This is your Valentine’s Day sack; the kids were very excited to give you valentine cards on Monday, too.” I then looked down at the pillow case, and saw that it had been decorated for me:
When I peered inside, I saw a whole bunch of cardboard slips and fun-size treats:
Oh. Melt my freaking heart. I grinned like a fool at the teacher; and she smiled back. I slipped the sack into my bag; and at the beginning of today’s lesson, I thanked all of the students for their notes and treats.
When I got home this afternoon, I opened the bag and read through the cards. All of them simply had my name in the “To” line and the student’s signature in the “From” line (and had a token item of candy attached); but each card represented the personality of the child that had chosen it. As I peeled away sugary treats to reveal images of animals and cartoon characters, and as I read the names of the kids I have come to know over these past six months, my heart swelled.
That feeling is what Valentine’s Day is really all about. How lucky I am to know 24 sweet valentines.