On Oct. 25, I, invited by teacher Jim Sumner and his colleagues, spoke to the fifth-graders of The National Presbyterian School in Tenleytown, D.C. This was our fourth encounter. Each time has been a significant learning experience for me.
This time among the many pleasant experiences was the honor of a pre-presentation visit by five gracious members of the sixth-grade class. These gracious young ladies remembered me, and I now need a much larger sized pork pie hat to match my inflated ego! This group and their classmates were the inspiration and models for a favorite photo and an article entitled “Helping Hands” published last year.
Then there is Abigail, Ace cub reporter documenting this very event for publication in the “Northwest Current.” She taught me a thing or two about interviewing. I learned of the book “What Do Fish Have To Do With Anything? (And Other Stories),” a 1997 Avi publication illustrated by Tracy Mitchell. It was this book that preceded my participation – a reading and discussion of my signature poem “Can You See Me,” previously published in Street Sense. The common denominator in the two narratives is the invisibility of the homeless.
Last, but quite far from least was Ian, a tween with great curiosity and a refreshing source of inspiration. This youngster led his fellow future leaders of America in a successful drive to aid the Puerto Rican survivors of Hurricane Irma.
For me the great takeaways from this event were that children are far more perceptive and receptive to the plight of the disadvantaged then we “mature adults,” and children shall lead us. Not many of us are really smarter than a fifth-grader.
Ken Martin is a vendor for Street Sense and a volunteer on our forum committee. He also participates regularly in our Writers’ Group, Interactive Art Group, Photograph Group and vendor advocacy group: FACE.