A couple of years ago, a high level bureaucrat from the Florida Department of Education came to our 70 year old crumbling school as a consulting expert. We met in our tiny library with too few shelves of too few books.
She looked around and asked "Where's the other library?"
We are a combined middle and high school, so she is forgiven for thinking we might have 2 libraries.
"This is it." we said.
She looked at us and said,
" I just came back from a trip to Costa Rica and I always take books down to give to a school in a tiny village there. I think from now on, I'll send them to your school."
She shook her head in disbelief and the meeting continued.
This post is not about Florida nature, but it is about Florida culture ... the culture of poverty. We have plenty of it behind the shiny beach front condo's and wealthy retiree colonies.
I teach in it ... neck deep in it.
Seventy-five percent of our students are classified as economically disadvantaged.
This is not a gloomy tale though. It's a tale of hope and kids and teachers who take action and make things better.
Last night, two teachers took their motivated Student Government Association (SGA) kids and put on the second annual Cappuccino Corner event. Admission was one book, but guests were encouraged to bring more. The SGA kids transformed the bland school cafeteria into a "Coffee Shop" atmosphere with subdued lighting, cozy seating, and a stage set for impromptu acts.
The smell and sound of Cappuccino production coupled with baked goods filled the room and tables for book donations were groaning under the weight of many books by evening's end. Visitors were encouraged to book swap and take something home to read also.
Junior MC'd the show (he is not shy) and the entertainment was provided by the student body and a few teachers (no, I didn't, but I'm thinking next year...).
They read poetry, sang, played music, danced, and acted in skits of their own making.
In keeping with the air of hip coolness that the coffee shop atmosphere required, we didn't applaud, instead, we snapped our fingers in appreciation of each act.
It was so neat to see the talent that some of our kids have and they were so glad to have a chance to demonstrate it. Such chances are few and far between in poor communities.
The evening was a great success with over a thousand books being donated. Some of those went home to new homes and some will stay in our school, but all are needed.
Cappuccino Corner ... a couple of teachers and a handful of kids taking action and making a difference.