See the coffee mug on the newspaper? I used it this morning for my mocha (made with French roast and Silk chocolate soy milk) that I drank while sitting in my backyard, reading the Sunday San Francisco Chronicle.
The mug has a story…it’s 20 years old this summer, brought to me by a lady who was my aide for a summer school class I taught out in the rural town of Parlier the first summer I had my teaching credential. I had no promise of a real teaching job so I took anything I could get. This class was in the computer lab at an elementary school in a very poor city with mostly Spanish speaking students. Although I cannot speak, I can read and understand Spanish at a very basic level. The aide was there to help me out, and she was wonderful.
I think I was hired to just oversee the kids doing whatever they liked on the computers, but I wanted a product (project based learning). The regular teacher had the lab set up for games, but there was a word processing program and a small desktop publishing program on the machines so I had the little kids write their stories (most in Spanish), and the older kids put them into a weekly newsletter for the duration. It was quite popular, and the superintendent came out one day to see what I was doing. Even 20 years ago I believed that computers are to be used for productivity, not to play games, and that is what we did in that lab. It did not, however, get me a job offer with the district. Now, looking back, I can be thankful as it was a 40 minute drive to Parlier and in the winter I would have suffered through fog on country roads.
Back to the mug, the lady who was my aide knew that I loved Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks and that my husband and I often hiked the trails there. One weekend she took her family, after hearing my stories, and brought the mug back as a souvenir. I was delighted and have kept it all these years as a reminder of a summer job, long ago, when I taught elementary children to write the stories of their life in their native language .