“It is vital when educating our children’s brains that we do not neglect to educate their hearts.”
I read this on Facebook today and it seemed the perfect fit. I am here to report, the future of our country is in good hands, specifically Patricia Eighmy’s fourth grade class at South Woods Elementary. After meeting this fabulous group of young people, I have been sleeping like a baby with the thought of these children being in charge of our world one day.
A few weeks ago I received an email from Ms. Eighmy. She wrote that her class had made bookmarks and sold them, and they wanted to donate the money to Pie in the Sky.
“This is our third year doing this project,” Ms. Eighmy said, “and we really wanted the money to stay local.”
She read about Pie in the Sky and shared with the class, and they were all for it. In her email she wrote: “We were hoping that you might be able to visit our school and classroom and talk to us briefly about the work you do to help the people in the Hastings community.” She said when they began the project, they set a goal of $200.
When I arrived at the school a group of several students greeted me, shook my hand and introduced themselves. I was impressed already.
After making our way to the classroom, Ms. Eighmy introduced me and started telling the kids about Pie in the Sky. Immediately, their hands flew in the air. They had questions, they made connections, they knew about the Pie Hole Tournament. I was now not only impressed, I was bowled over. I have spoken to lot of groups of people and they have all been wonderful, but nowhere was there a group more engaged than this classroom of inquisitive and informed fourth graders.
We talked about the food bank and delivering to elderly and homebound residents. One student raised her hand: “You deliver to my grandma every week,” she said, smiling. I know her grandma, and I told her we were sure glad we could get groceries to her.
Another student asked: “How did you come up with the name of your charity?”
I asked the class if anyone knew Mike Mitchell. All of the hands shot up. Nearly every child in that room had a fond “Mr. Mike” story. And they were thrilled to hear how he came up with the name Pie in the Sky.
Still another student suggested: “Maybe you say you are baking hope in Hastings instead of growing.”
Then it was time for the presentation. The student stood up and read from the envelope in her hand: “On behalf of South Woods Elementary, our fourth grade class would like to donate our earnings from our bookmark sale to Pie in the Sky. Please accept our cash donation in the amount of $356. Your friends, Ms. Eighmy’s fourth grade class.”
Well, I was stunned. And I think the kids were stunned that I was stunned. I said, “Wow, that is a lot of money.”
The little boy next to me asked: “How much did you think it was going to be?” I replied, “Not as much as it is.”
As I often do these days, I began to tear up. I told the class that $356 would buy 5,000 to 6,000 pounds of food and would feed more than 200 families. I said, “$356is a lot of money for anyone to raise, and it is especially a lot of money for a fourth grade class to raise.”
They showed me the bookmarks they made and told me I could have my choice. They were delicately made with beads on either end, some had butterfly charms, and others had little stars. I found the one with a peace sign. “This is perfect.” I said.
When it was time to leave I was enveloped in great big fourth grade hugs. Ms. Eighmy said they are a real hugging bunch. She said the students were very proud of what they had done, and she feels so fortunate to have such a compassionate group of kids.
My mama would have said, “Those children have had some good raising.” They have had some good teaching, too. Ms. Eighmy, I think, is one of those teachers kids will always remember as the teacher who made a difference in their lives. She has created a class of compassionate, engaged young people who will always know that they made an impact, they made a difference, and they helped bring food to their community. Those students’ lives have been enriched by a teacher who cared enough to educate their hearts as well as their minds.
My life has been enriched by visiting that South Woods classroom and our little corner of the world is a better place today because of 22 fourth graders and the teacher who inspired them.