On Friday afternoon, we worked with approximately 45 teachers, program and academic directors, and teaching artists to develop teaching approaches that would use the Museum as a focus and teaching tool, as well as incorporating poetry into the Museum experience as well as generally more an organic part of the teaching day. Participants wrote collaborative poems based on their exploration of the Museum and the work groups created some initial concepts for comprehensive lesson plans that addressed each of the core content subject areas as well. The room was alive with creativity and learning in a similar spirit as that of the history of Hull House. In fact, both events were held in the historical landmark, the Residents' Dining Hall, where the likes of Jane Addams herself, W.E.B. DuBois, and Eleanor Roosevelt were just a few of those many who have dined in that very room. At one moment, after screening the short documentary about the Hull House Settlement and its ongoing mission, we took a few moments in silence to honor the ancestors of that space and work that has, in some ways, defined the American experience and commitment to social justice. It was humbling.
After the flush and hustle of the Chicago visit, I flew home to host Randall Horton's visit to accept the Bea Gonzalez Prize from this year's edition of Stone Canoe. The next morning, after Randall headed back to New Haven, I packed and prepared to drive to Middletown for a week at Twin Towers Middle School. It was a great week and I posted some of the classwork in my previous entry. Spring teased us a bit during the week, especially yesterday, when I walked out of school at 2:30, the schoolyard full of students eager for this upcoming week's vacation, the teachers urging those lagging behind out the doors so they could also start their break. It was 67 degrees and the sun was glorious. I drove along NY Route 17 through the southern part of the state looking for more encouragement that Spring was in fact on its way, then up Route 81 to home. The temperature dropped 15 degrees and the clouds started to appear, the closer I got to my driveway.
I was asleep by 10 p.m.! The winds were fierce with gusts of 40 - 50 mph all night. This morning, I woke to the drop and scrape of my plow guy's blade, AGAIN! There are 4 inches of new snow, the lake effect is still blowing sideways, and I need to get ready to go up to Thornden Park, where we will celebrate the annual Chili Fest. I am reluctant to go out the door but we will be gathering lines for a collaborative poem about the park and I will laugh with neighbors, so it will be a good welcoming home. I have two weeks to anchor into my home and what better way to start than to see friends and share "I can't wait for Spring" tales as we sample hot chili together while the last of the winter winds howl through the park that will soon explode with blossom and leaf?