Kicking Off National Library Week/National Poetry Month With A Roar by Stacey James McAdoo
Libraries = Strong Communities is the theme of this year’s National Library Week. And if the library at Parkway Elementary is any indicator of the strength of the community that it is nestled inside, then Bryant is definitely vigorous! On Monday, April 8th, I had the opportunity to witness the vigor in all its splendor as I hung out in Parkway’s oh so inviting and super cool library with some of the most precious students this side of the Arkansas River! The invitation was extended to us (the Writeous Poets) by the even cooler and more inviting librarian, Mrs. Chyrstal Burkes!
Our trek began two hours before the start of our regular school day. The nonstop chatter of excitement filled the vehicle all the way to and from Parkway Elementary. And although we arrived expecting to help 130+ fourth and fifth graders kick off National Poetry Month, we were not expecting the greeting nor reception we received. There was a sense of familiarity that permeated from the walls. It felt and smelled like love. As we walked up the stairs, down the hall and entered the library I could have sworn I heard the building roar, “Welcome to the greatest school on earth!”
Once inside the maker space/classroom portion of the library, aside from the beautiful aesthetics, the first thing that caught my eye was the question board that was filled with well thought out inquiries by the fourth and fifth graders to the Writeous Poets. The Parkway scholars were interested in knowing not just how or why the Writeous started writing, but where they drew their source of inspiration from, specific strategies they used to overcome their fears (or sharing, writing and performing), what it was like to be a part of a poetry troupe and what they gained the most from being a part of it. They were also curious about the amount of time and effort the poets put into their craft as well as the importance of and correlation between getting good grades and doing poetry. They even asked about travel, scholarships, cultural differences, and multilingual poetry. I did mention these were nine to eleven-year-olds, right?!?
On the same wall, adjacent to stage right, housed a board with a four-square chart of various types of poetry. It was evident before even meeting the students that they were going to be well prepared. And indeed they were! These fourth and fifth graders were an impressive audience! They demonstrated a genuine interest with precision sharp attentiveness that was admirable for an audience of any age.
The smiles, snaps, ooowwwws, ahs, wows, “that’s incredible,” cheers, hugs, and high-fives extended from Parkway’s tweens to my Central teens still have the Writeous Poets floating on Cloud Nine. I think it is safe to say that we all left better people and poets because of this experience. We cannot wait to see the poems and artwork the Parkway Poets end up creating!
*Stacey James McAdoo, the 2019 Arkansas Teacher of the Year (affectionately referred to as 2019ATOY), is a 16 year Oral Communication instructor, AVID Coordinator and sponsor of the spoken word collective called Writeous Poets from Little Rock, Arkansas. She teaches at the historic Little Rock Central High School where she is the living embodiment of her ATOY platform of using passion and poetry to close the opportunity gap.*
Leave a comment below and share how you celebrate National Library Week and/or National Poetry Month.