The scene is an odd one at Grace United Methodist Preschool. A miniature Albert Einstein trots down the hall in mismatched shoes to retrieve the fuzzy white adhesive eyebrow that has fallen off in the excitement. Amelia Earhart casually follows close behind, model airplane in tow. These pint-sized historical figures are actually students in Suzi Lynch’s fourth-grade class at Laurel Nokomis School. Today, they’ve dressed as their personal heroes in preparation for their reading ambassadors program, in which they read books they’ve written to the preschoolers.
“We were talking about heroes in the classroom,” says Lynch. “I kept hearing them say, ‘When I grow up … ’ I thought that was great, but could they be heroes now? It upset me as a teacher that they felt other people could do great things, when I know they’re capable of it, too.”
So, Lynch posed a question to her class: To a 4-year-old preschool student, couldn’t something as simple as reading a book be considered heroic? After some thought, her class agreed that, indeed, they could make a difference in these students’ lives. They started writing books they would like to have read in preschool. Subject matter included youthful concerns such as going to the doctor, overcoming teasing and being afraid of the dark.
The next step would require each student to choose his or her personal hero and put together an accompanying costume before visiting Grace United Methodist Preschool. Funds raised through Gulf Coast Gives provided school bus transportation as well as hardback copies of the students’ books.
When the day came to present their books and definitions of a hero, the fourth-graders and preschoolers seemed equally excited to know that being a hero doesn’t require super powers or a cape — just the effort to make a positive change in one’s community.
“These are things that emphasize that kids really are amazing when you give them the opportunity to think about helping others,” says Lynch. “They’ve really shined.”
BY THE NUMBERS
19 — number of Laurel Nokomis reading ambassadors
$500 — money raised so far to fund the program
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