braid beards are welcome here

  • A 16 year-old former student stopped by my room before 7am to tell me all about his “favorite, most-amazing birthday yet!” which he spent with his family in New York City. Plays were seen, parked were explored, new foods were tasted and the subway was a joy ride—a weekend all planned by him.
  • One of my freshman students is so paralyzed with fear and anxiety that she has to sit alone, with her back to the class. She is unable to walk around with others when we look at work, has not participated in any critiques and leaves class 5 minutes late so she doesn’t have to walk in the hallway to lunch with the other students. The other day she slipped her work on a table to be assessed by other students, joined another table (albeit at a far corner) to hear a discussion and another student selected her work as the most accomplished in the class. After a lengthy description of all the positive traits the work contained the other student asked, “but what is the work about?“. I said I could tell her but wanted to know if the artist would like to explain. We waited a moment and in front of a silent class a clear, loud, steady voice—that none of us had ever heard— thoughtfully and confidently explained what the work was about. I haven’t seen a repeat of that unusual confidence since that day but we both (along with her case manager, therapist, counselor, mom and tutor) know that it’s there.
  • Another freshman girl was surrounded by giggling students in the hallway and she later entered class with her long hair pulled towards her face and braided under her chin. She created her hair sculpture beard with the help of a friend before her first class and had decided to wear it all day. I wasn’t surprised by her quirkiness but impressed with her bravery and her fine braiding skills. When our tv production students came in needing someone to say a line for the film they were shooting (to be shown to the entire school next week) I asked BBG (braided-beard-grrl) if she wanted to volunteer. She jumped out of her seat, walked confidently to the front of the room and asked, “What would you like me to say?” as the mesmerized class watched her in silence. She finished her lines, stroked her braid-beard and as she walked back to her seat, the class erupted into cheers for her.

 ENTHUSIASM. BRAVERY. CREATIVITY. CONFIDENCE. COMARADERIE.

I have missed you all. Welcome back

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