In the summertime of 2017, my elementary school decided it was time to add Pre-K into the 2017 curriculum. 2017 was also going to be my fifth and final year at Myrtle Place Elementary. And who could have guessed 2017 was the year I would never forget.
On the first day of school, the new Pre-K teacher, asked for volunteer fifth graders who would be willing to sit with them at lunch. Out of 50 fifth graders, I was one of the few (10) that agreed. As our group left to go meet them at their lunch, I wondered if the kids would adapt to us. Or if we would adapt to them.
The moment I saw the Pre-K students, I knew we were in for an adventure. Only half of the kids were talking at lunch. The other half just sat and stared. I could only imagine how they were feeling; scared, anxious and alone.
I told my mom and dad about all of this. They said that all I could do was comfort and help them. The idea struck like lightening!
I turned in my proposal two weeks later and it was approved by our principal. Soon, I had received permission from all of my teachers and the new Pre-K teacher. Lastly, I had received over 20 recruits. Three weeks later, it had begun.
Ambassadors de Petit Lionso (Little Cub Ambassadors) were fifth graders who voluntarily went to help the Pre-K class learn colors, shapes, numbers, and letters in French. All of it was learned through games and activities that we created and monitored during our time with the Pre-K students. Activities were broken out into stations. At the stations there were two fifth graders with 4-5 Pre-K students. The stations consisted of color-coding playdoh, French stories, nature, art/drawing and life skills—all in the eyes of a 4-year-old. In these stations, fifth graders led activities that I planned out and every Wednesday, we missed our P.E. class to teach them French as well as kindness and to enjoy life at Myrtle Place Elementary. Soon, the little ones were feeling more comfortable at school. I felt like I was making a difference.
While we were making a difference with the Pre-K students, I noticed that some of the teachers disapproved of the program and they expected it to “die down.” It never did and neither did the teachers’ disapproval. One of my teachers started pulling recruits out of the program. I even remembered one time, an office assistant yelled at us for doing the project. It was just Madame Fabienne and 21 four-year olds. She needed help! We all knew we were helping all of them and they loved us. So, I never understood the motive behind why teachers did not want us to excel. Thankfully, the project lasted the whole year, even with many obstacles. And then, I realized something.
I realized adults expect us to be the next generation—preparing us for the world or preparing us to change it. And some people believe the world needs nothing more. Adults always get children to do what they want to change, not what the children think needs to be changed. Things are different from a kid’s perspective and time, and adults don’t always listen. Sometimes, kids feel as if their voices don’t matter at all. What I think people don’t realize is some things don’t need to be changed, just re-opened and better understood.
“Defois, c’est mieux d’ecouter, de voir.”
(Sometimes it’s better to listen, then to see).
Isabella Anderson is twelve years old and loves traveling, the months of November and December and guinea pigs. She lives in Scott, LA with her parents, Tim and Kristi, younger sister, Harper, a cool cat Oliver and her guinea pig, Nibbi. Bella is fluent in French and is in middle school at Paul Breaux Middle.
Harper Oliver by Harper E. Anderson
I painted this to show the popularity of Voodoo, culture, streets and people in New Orleans. (Painted on wood).
Harper is 9 years old, fluent in French and loves to draw and paint.