Out of the classroom, Part 2 An Immigrant Boy
I was walking to my classroom, when I heard my name called. My neighboring teacher rushed up to me, her face full of concern.
"Oh, Jane,” she said. "I'm so sorry. I hate to tell you." She looked so stricken that I expected to hear some very bad family news. Instead, she named a boy in her classroom.
"What's happened to him?" I asked.
"He - he's being transferred into your class," she said, apologetically.
We all knew that this little guy - we'll call him 'Roman' - was a handful. His parents had emigrated from a small Eastern European country, I think it was Romania, and Roman was still "adjusting." A new start in a different classroom seemed like a good idea. Roman was in my classroom right after lunch.
I don't know if it was better for Roman in my classroom. But early on, one incident put me right in Roman's corner. Yes, yes, he was a handful. But our current classroom English assignment revealed more to me than any number of conferences on how to help this little immigrant boy adjust to his new life in Lincoln, California.
The assignment was an easy one: the children were to write a letter to a friend, following all the rules for punctuation, capitalization, dates, greetings, closures and addresses.
Off they went, busy at their little desks, working on their little letters: Dear Lucy. Dear Bobby. Dear Juan. Dear Sally. Dear Tommy.
As I walked up and down the aisles, I looked down at Roman's work. The little 8-year-old boy was working very hard. The assignment seemed more meaningful to him than to the other letter writers in class.
With a little tug at my heart, I realized that Roman wasn't pretending. He really needed to write a letter to a distant friend. I've never forgotten the greeting that he had so carefully spelled out at the top of his letter: Dear Vlad,
Oh, yes. This little immigrant boy was far, far from home.
This column is part of a Friends of the Lincoln Library series. To reach the nonprofit Friends, write to Box 1177, Lincoln CA 95648, contact 434-2404 or friendsofthelincolnlibrary.com. Jane Tahti is the Friends of the Lincoln Library secretary.