Therese (aka ‘Trees’) loves learning and visiting classrooms. There is nothing like working with the ‘smallest among us’ as continued inspiration! Below are some of the class highlights when Trees, the poet, visited her young friends.
Eagle River High School, Eagle River, Alaska
Project: Coordinated by Dr. Kimberly Handy, Trees spent a day visiting with Dr. Handy's English classes. Their pre-class assignment was to research poems at theresegramercy.com. In class, Trees and the students took turns reading her poetry, discussing their meanings and how the poems came about. And so it went all day, with each class sharing their favorite poems from her website with her. Students came up with other meanings for her poems too . . . showing their versatility in areas of life for which they were never intended when they were conceived by Trees. One poem even gave a student the inspiration for a new work of art.
Most exciting for Trees was to witness the students’ progress from various stages of shyness to being willing to read poems aloud in front of their peers and asking such poignant questions that it reminded her that the wisest minds and hearts are not always the oldest ones.
Mrs. Gauster's fifth grade class, Muldoon Elementary, Anchorage, Alaska
Project: Trees worked with students in class to create their own poems for Earth Day, and coordinated a surprise delivery of blue marbles from the students at Rooftop Alternative School in San Francisco, CA. This led to the Alaska students creating artwork to show their appreciation. Trees, as their ambassador, headed south to San Francisco (the city where her mom when to school) with their gifts and artworks to present them in person to the kids at the Rooftop School.
Trees had so much fun with the kids in Mrs. Gauster's class that she visited them again and again, even attending their 'graduation' dance at the end of the term. See below for the Rooftop view of this story.
The Rooftop Alternative School, San Francisco, California
Project: With the skillful coordination of Andi Wong, Therese visited several classes at both campuses of The Rooftop Alternative School (K-4 and 5-8 both situated along Corbett Street), in San Francisco, California. The main reason for the visit was to meet with Miss Kastner's third grade class who had sent the blue marbles to Alaska. The class went crazy when they heard that she was coming up the stairs and the kids flew downstairs to meet her and drag her heavy bags up the stairs to their classroom. As class ambassador, Trees brought several gifts from Mrs. Gauster's class in Anchorage as well as artworks created by the students, all to thank the Rooftop kids for their blue marble surprise. But that isn't all that happened! Tree poems abounded everywhere, more classes were visited over a 3-day span, and Trees was even interviewed on tape by one of the third graders, who made her practice before taping the interview. Trees now knows that she can stand up to any interviewer on the planet!
Most heart-warming for Trees was the joining of children at two different rooftops . . . one in a place at the world's rooftop, Alaska, and the other on a hill overlooking the rooftops of San Francisco in California. The 'blue marble' classes in Anchorage and San Francisco signed her copy of The Lorax by Dr. Seuss . . . and what better gift could a girl named Trees ever want than that?
Eagle River High School, Eagle River, Alaska
Just in time, for Valentine's Day, Trees visited a new crop of Dr. Kimberly Handy's 9th and 10th grade English students. Dr. Handy's online assignment sent them all over theresegramercy.com to explore poetry, prose and projects. After Dr. Handy tabulated the homework results, we found the students to be interested in poems all over the map, from the obvious Alaska to Confliction to Energy to Glitter to Rampage to Pink Heart Light to Sea Clouds to The Bridge to Water to Infinity and Above . . . and about another 120+ poems and poemettes (a genre I created . . . so that means yes, to the reader below who asked if it is a real word . . . I created it, spell check just hasn't heard of me or it yet) . . . and just look at the list of questions they gave me . . . this is what inspires me to embrace the classroom, for when people tell me that they think our world is not in good hands in the future? I know it is.
The many questions for Trees:
Why do you do this? How do you make up the poems and stories you write? Is it hard to find inspiration to write about? Will you make more books? How are you so creative? Why do you care? At what age did you learn that you had an interest in poetry? For community involvement, were you inspired by someone or were you trying to get people out and do some good for the community? Were you ever scared to speak in public? How did you get started? What made you start creating poems? Do you ever get writer's block? What is the best way to remember your poems? How do you cope with reading your poems in front of a huge community? Your poems are really beautiful, what age did you start writing poems, and what made you want to start writing poems? Does most of your inspiration for your work come from nature? Is it a good way of living to write? How many poems/stories/poems have you ever done? Is poemette a real word? … when I type it on the computer it says that it is spelled wrong, what is a poemette? What inspired you to write a cookbook? Where do you get the inspiration for your poetry? After learning about you through your website, what do you hope will be your greatest accomplishment? What do you want to be remembered for?
Hmmm . . . I think you can see that to ponder so many answers, more than one cup of camellia tea was needed to prepare for a day surrounded with such inquiring minds!
Pictured above: Dr. Handy's pretty online homework form, Trees in the classroom, a doodle by one of her students, Lici Pagan, inspired by a poet in the classroom.
The Rooftop Alternative School, PreK-8, San Francisco, California
Project: I sent my heart to San Francisco
Some bonds are so very special . . . like that of a favorite school in a favorite place, the place where my mom was born, San Francisco. After an extended stay in Monterey and as part of preparing to return to Alaska, I decided I should leave some favorite things with those who had stolen my heart, the children and teachers of the Rooftop School . . . Once again, as with the blue marble exchange, Andi Wong coordinated my wish. I sent a flat-rate box of favorite things to be opened in the school garden along with a letter of what each thing meant to me . . . but the one photo that brought me to tears? . . . that of seeing my heart hanging in a tree in the garden that I have visited and that celebrates the Mission Blue butterfly. Sweet sigh!
So . . . what's next in the relationship of the 'blue butterfly' school and Trees? Adventures are brewing . . . stay tuned . . . to the channel of Trees and the tiny blue butterflies.