"Like the study of science and art, accounts of historical events can be intrinsically fascinating. But they have a wider significance. I believe that people are better able to chart their life course and make life decisions when they know how others have dealt with pressures and dilemmas---historically, contemporaneously, and in works of art. And only equipped with such understanding can we participate knowledgeably in contemporary discussions (and decisions) about the culpability of various individuals and countries in the Second World War. Only with such understanding can we ponder the responsibilty of human beings everywhere to counter current efforts at genocide in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia to bring the perpetrators to justice."
"...we humans are the kinds of animals who learn chiefly by observing others---what they value, what they spurn, how they conduct themselves from day to day, and especially, what they do when they believe that no one is looking."
----Howard Gardner, from The Disciplined Mind, published in 1999

Friday, December 21, 2007

Neroli's Last Day; or, A Social Story of Sorts

It was the night before Neroli’s last day with Black Diamond’s class. Neroli was asleep. She was dreaming about school. In the dream, she met the School Fairy. The School Fairy told Neroli that before she could go to what comes next, she had to take a test. Neroli remembered how well the students in Black Diamond’s class do when they take tests. She thought she would do her best just as Black Diamond’s class does.
The School Fairy told Neroli that she would have to pick her favorite student. The student that Neroli picked as her favorite would have a great year at school when the New Year came. Neroli thought this was a hard question, but she remembered that she had to do her best, just as Black Diamond’s class does. She began to think about the question. This is what she thought:

Vermillion…maybe I should choose Vermillion. Vermillion is always willing and ready to be a leader and a helper. Vermillion always remembers the words and the melodies when I forget how to sing them. He always can tell when his friends or teachers are feeling happy or sad and knows how to use his words to tell them so. When I trip and fall down, Vermillion always laughs with me about how funny it is to fall down and get back up again. Definitely Vermillion…

Madder…of course, I should choose Madder. Madder always makes friends feel welcome with a sense of humor. When it is his turn to be weather helper, he speaks to the group as if he were a weatherman on the news. He has such a wonderful way of talking about the world. I really like when Madder smiles and gives me high-fives when he’s proud of his good work. Certainly Madder…

Camouflage…well, maybe I should choose Camouflage. Camouflage has so much happy energy, and is always looking for ways to be a helper to his teachers and his friends. He remembers how to do his best work, not to do his fastest work, and that is such a great thing. Camouflage always gives nice words to his friends. When Camouflage and I have to sometimes wait in Teal's office, he makes shadow animals on the wall with me, and that is really fun. Absolutely Camouflage…

Naples Yellow…certainly I should choose Naples Yellow. Naples Yellow enjoys being at school so much. When he is happy, we all know it, and it is contagious. Naples Yellow does such a wonderful job of keeping time and schedule during the day, and what a help that is. He is a really good dancer. Naples Yellow is always patient with me when I ask if he will draw a picture of something for me, and his drawings are lovely. Of course, it’s Naples Yellow…

Cobalt…what about Cobalt? Cobalt has such a way of looking at and noticing everything around him. He uses wonderful words to tell his friends and teachers what he sees. Cobalt has a great smile and is a great playmate to his friends. When Cobalt and I wait after school for his van, he always can point out to me things that I would not have noticed if he weren’t with me. Positively Cobalt…

Rosegold…really, I should choose Rosegold. Rosegold always looks for ways to include all her friends wherever she is and whatever she is doing. She thinks about different ways to write about and draw about what she sees and hears and thinks. Rosegold loves to laugh, and she encourages her friends and teachers to do the same. When she lost her tooth during lunch, she smiled, handed me the tooth, and kept right on eating. Without a doubt, it’s Rosegold…

Prussian Blue…maybe I should choose Prussian Blue. Prussian Blue has so much energy for everything. Prussian Blue thinks so much about his friends and teachers, and is always willing to be a helper. He really loves everything about being in school. He does not give up easily, and he can use this to help himself wherever he goes. When Prussian Blue asks me to go down the slide with him at recess, we laugh all the way down. Really, it is Prussian Blue…


Then Neroli realized that she couldn’t choose any of these students as her favorite. They were all her favorites, each in his or her own way. Neroli wasn’t sure if this was the right answer to the School Fairy’s test, but she knew she had done her best work, just like Black Diamond’s class, and so that was the answer that she gave. The School Fairy smiled. This is what the School Fairy said:

You have passed the test! Each and every student in the class is any teacher’s favorite in his or her own way. Each boy and girl brings something just right to their class…so all these students will have a good year in school in the New Year!
Sometimes it is hard to think about and to do what comes next, and that is okay. Black Diamond, Paisley, and the other special teachers who help them---they will keep on seeing how special those students are. Neroli, you can go on to what comes next.


And with tears in her eyes, and love in her heart, she did just that.

9 comments:

Anita said...

Neroli is as beautiful as hers students are special! We are indeed lucky to have teachers such as you - who see the good in all of us, and there is so much good...if we only look.

I wish you the best in what comes next.

Pelicano said...

Life's variety is marvelous, isn't it? Astounding, and such a beautiful heart that can see it. It's hard for me sometimes, but you inspire me.
I am entering a transition of my own soon. The "play" is drawing to a close, and I can feel it. Courageously we move forward and away from that old scenery, never knowing what will happen, or the beauty ahead until it, too, passes through us.

neroli said...

Dear Anita, Dear Pel,
It's so good to have wise and wonderful people such as you to keep me company...I learn so much from you both...thank you!

I'm definitely with you both: there's so much goodness and beauty in life! Is it that this beauty perceived somehow as more beautiful by virtue of how easily our human nature loses sight of it, I wonder?

captain corky said...

What about Captain Corky? Isn't he your favorite? ;)

Pelicano said...

That would be when the annoying, has-the-answer-for-everything Pel steps in and says, "If everything in life, in the world was beautiful would we notice?" :-D

neroli said...

As I wipe the coffee off my computer screen (after having shot out of my nose at a fairly good clip)---Corky, you're not in the story because I'm not leaving you, darlin'---I'm signed on to the Log for life ;)

My dear Pel, who is always-has-a-way-of-making-others-smile, then it would be me, the ever-fumbling-with-words one who would try to say that it's not so much the dual nature of perception that is so much the issue (the bitter notes make that chocolate taste so much better!---for example); rather, it's the perception of it all that is the fulcrum of that whole game (why in the world do I have to taste all this chocolate in the first place?!?---in other words).
:)

swampy said...

Just flew by to wish you a wonderful day and hope that 2008 brings to you sunshine and just enough sprinkles to make a rainbow.
Classrooms are like a box of crayons that color a teacher's world. (I was never the sharpest crayon in the box, but I was colorful.)

The Artist formerly Known as Purpleworms (!) said...

What a sweet story! You are indeed ready to go out into the world of professional teaching.

neroli said...

Dear Swampy, sharp and colorful are but two of all the things that you are, darlin'!

Dear Artist, I'm glad that you think so. I wish you could come with me on my first day!