Thank You, Mrs. Greenfield

Thank you Mrs. Greenfield for your dedication to my education

I was but a child when I came across Nathaniel’s Talking

It was a poem my second grade teacher skipped over for Henry and Mudge

At night, however, my sisters and I became self-teachers and rappers

We tied our hair up in towels and crochet blankets

We looked into the mirrors and recited

Nathaniels Talking until it became a song

We recited it until it became an anthem

We recited it until our mom called us down for dinner

We danced down the steps chanting,

Nathaniel’s talking and Nathaniel’s me

Talking about my philosophy!

And we added beats and danced to the rap

Thank You Mrs. Greenfield for your dedication to my education

I am but a teacher now and read, Nathaniel’s Talking

It’s a poem my third grade class encounter at the beginning of the year

and never fail to ask for us to read it again at the end.

Thank you Mrs. Greenfield for your dedication to my education.

Mrs. Eloise Greenfield was a beloved children’s author. She passed away this month in Washington, D.C., at age 92.

Thank you, Mr. Floyd Cooper

This morning I woke up to the sound of rain.

I checked my email and all at once the rain became a symbol.

I read the Associated Press title twice: Children’s book illustrator Floyd Cooper, who painted positive images of Black History, dies at 65.

I was blessed to meet Mr. Cooper in Philadelphia at the African American children’s fair in 2019. After signing a couple of books for my class, he spoke very briefly about being an illustrator. I remember telling him about my students and the Nat King Cole lesson I was currently working on. He listened closely and even asked me to send him some of my work.

While we never got to work together, I am very happy I met such a wonderful individual who painted pictures of yesterday so our children of today could resonate with both worlds. I will keep his family in my prayers.

Ms. Tami Charles, Ms. Nikki Grimes and Mr. Floyd Cooper in 2019

Ecclesiastes 3

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1

Here I am standing in front of a DMX wall mural with my children.

To an outsider, it’s a group of people standing in front of a wall mural; but the insiders know, the the wall mural is relevant to the people and the time.

When DMX died in April of this year, many of the children spoke about it in class. After all, we do live in the Bronx and associate ourselves with Black Culture. They spoke about his death in a reminiscent way. Which I knew, was a way for them express their parents grief. I mean, do they really know who he is?

I am not sure, but because of the times they could relate.

They were finishing up Sounder by William H. Armstrong which, if you don’t know have many themes: death, life, survival of the Black man, and the Bible just to name a few.

COVID, George Floyd’s death, protest of last summer and returning to school made the children more aware of the times and the injustices and inequalities that exist in America, specifically, New York. DMX’s death added to the conversation.

Timing is everything. While walking to school, I saw the graffiti artist, Andaluz and his team setting up and asked about their project. Then asked if my students could come later on and witness the painting. To which they said yes.

After getting an okay from my Principal, they got to meet Andaluz, the graffiti artist painting the mural, and also got to interview the other artist and reporters were were on site. A month later, after the painting, we returned and talked about the art. The first question one student asked was- what does it say near his head?

Ecclesiastes 3.

What does that mean?

It’s a book in the Bible. That part talks about time and season and how everything has a purpose under heaven. What does this remind you of?

Sounder?

Yup.

We stood there for a while in silence.

Ms. Hurley, there are a lot of candles here now.

I know. I think that is a way some people remember those who passed on.

Oh.