Ready to Change the World, One Book at a Time

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The year so far with the students at the CRIT-RISE-Haywood program has been a joy, complete with many surprises. It has been my pleasure to see them grow. Each time they shock me with courage and talent that none of us knew existed. We began 2014 with the Hip Hop Enhancement. Many of the students thought they were familiar with this style of dance, but soon found out it was harder than it looked. That didn’t stop any of them.  The students learned a routine and really had fun doing it. Some of them were naturals, others not so much, but the real treat was the dedication it took to learn the routine and to see them rise to the occasion. The next fabulous Enhancement was Songwriting. The students came up with a fantastic, heart-felt song with the aid of Mr. Bobby. Now if only I can get them to sing it at the Spring Showcase.  Oh, and I forgot mention that one of the quieter students has a solo rap. Keep your fingers crossed.

We were able to squeeze in a field trip on the weekend. Some of the students had expressed their desire to go to the downtown library and check out books and movies. This was such a treat for us. The weather was fantastic and the students are all so good.  One student spent the entire visit time trying to convince me to change the number of check outs they could take home with them that day. She may become a lawyer, who knows!

All of the boys plunged into Fashion Design, even though they had already determined that this was not the enhancement for them.  To our surprise, there is that word again, the boys created some pretty neat things to wear. Maybe not to your surprise, the girls were all geared up and ready to make their fashion statements come alive in their very own article of clothing that they designed and created.  This Enhancement really got them going, and they became very detailed oriented and did not want to put the project down.

RISE is not all about having great Enhancements -  it is also about helping our refugee and immigrant population have a support system during these critical years of schooling. The students have come to know that when they step through the doors, they will be expected to expand and not leave the same way they came in. They love to read books, together and alone. It is great to see the community that they have formed. The students feel safe and are free to try new things and not be criticized for making a mistake. I love to hear when they are doing better in school or want to share something that they have done or learned that week or day. We have been working on comprehension and their ability to retell a source text in their own words. They are gaining more confidence in their ability to read information and retell that information. Soon they will begin to understand that it is from this point of mastery that opinions can be formed. I asked one student, “Why did I pick this book?” The student replied back in a sarcastic tone, “Because you want us to change the world.” I wanted to burst out in laughter: I guess they have heard me say it so much, they may be tired of hearing it. But I’m not going to stop. These kids can change the world.



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