Opeyemi Remembers

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I ran into one of my high school sisters. Embarrassingly enough, I had to confess to her that I forgot her name. We recognized each other at the same time in the train station. But she acknowledged me first.

Lystria Hurley!!

Oh, Hi! You look familiar.

Yesssss.

Yes. Where did I meet you at? Did you attend Fordham or do you go to…

You forgot me? Really?

No, I remember you. I just forgot your name and…

SJB! We met in high school. You were a year older than me!

Ohhhhhhhh, shucks! Right. right.

Do you remember my name?

No. No. I’m so sorry. What is it again?

Opeyemi.

Oh…..yeah. Opeyemi! I remember now! How are you?

After a short moment of ohhhing and ahhing to convince Opeyemi that I really did remember her, we embraced and spoke for a long time.

Majority of the conversation was her reminding me about high school.  Actually, my memory was depending her hers and vice versa. I could not remember who she hung out with, some of the teachers we shared, and even if we shared friends (which it turned out that she knew all my friends and sisters!).

She kept on bashing me (in a kind way) for forgetting her. “How could you forget me? I’m hurt.” But, I really didn’t forget her. I simply forgot her name….and some high school moments. Or maybe they were replaced by other moments which made other memories dormant? Perhaps they were waiting for Opeyemi to come along and ignite them. Isn’t that’s what memories are, bits of information that sits in our head until time tells us to use it?

One thing I do remember about high school is sitting in Ms. Kurtz’s biology class and zoning out. She was talking to the class about the difference between long term and short term memory. I was staring outside and something she said about long term memory drew me in.

Ms. Kurtz, can you give an example of long term memory? I asked.

Lystria, if a cute boy walks up to you today and tell you that you are pretty and gorgeous, you will remember that for a long time. That’s long term memory. He made you feel good. Your emotions were evolved. But, these notes? you will not remember them. Unless you study, and you still may forget them…..

I kid you not, I did not even pay attention to anything else she had to say. I kept on day dreaming about that cute boy.

When Opeyemi scorned me for forgetting, I blamed it on age but that didn’t work being I was only one year older than her. However, now that I am still thinking about the situation, I think it does have something to do with age. I was Opeyemi’s older sister in high school. She and her friends all looked up to me. I tutored and counseled with them. This made her remember me. I also was an ambassador for my school which meant I was always meeting freshmen. Every year. And being paired with new students.  While most of the upper class men were busy with just their  friends, I knew students from every year. That’s a lot of people to remember now! Had it been the other way around, she probably wouldn’t remember my full name!

I think how I treated the freshmen and welcomed them into my school, made memories stick with them. I can’t even remember all of my close friends from high school.

The words poet Maya Angelou said are true:  …people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel, this good feeling of nostalgia showed up in our ability to pick up our companionship. However, I think the quote should read, people will forget your name too.

 

 

 

 

Judge Sotomayor

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At the beginning of the school year, I got an email from the cozy children book store on 18 West 18th street, Books of Wonder, informing me that Judge Sotomayor was coming to town for a meet and greet book signing!!

When I arrived, I picked up both of her children books, the picture book, Turing Pages: My Life Story and the adaptation for middle graders based on her bestselling adult memoir, The Beloved World of Sonia Sotomayor 

When she asked me who to sign it to, I told her to my third grade class.

Where do you work? she asked.

In the Bronx.

She smiled and replied thank you, thank you. Your job means so much. She asked me what part of the Bronx and spoke to me about how important teaching can be. Then she thanked me again. Knowing she grew up in the Bronx, made her encouragement even more meaningful.

I shared the books with my students during the months of  September and October, prior to our career week celebrations. I turned to the page with her signature and showed them that the judge herself, had taken the time to sign the book just for them! Their eyes got big and they sat even more still during the read aloud.The little boy who usually sits at the back, squiggled himself up to the front.

The students were engaged in her life story and I was extremely happy when one of my students declared that she wanted to also become a judge.

 

Christopher Paul Curtis

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I was super excited to meet Christopher Paul Curtis at the National Book Awards Ceremony this month! I attended without finding out who were on the finalist list. I love surprises…especially if I can control them in some way.

The first thing I would always do when I arrive at the New School (which is where the ceremony is held) is visit the book seller’s table. I do this even before looking at the program. Looking at the books for sell tells me who I will be listening to that night.

When I came across The Journey of Little Charlie by Christopher Paul Curtis, I asked the vendor if he Mr. Curtis was going to be there that night. Sometimes authors don’t show up to the event.

Yeah, I believe so, he responded.

And, sure enough. He was there!

I was really happy to meet him in person because his writing kept me up at night as a little girl. His books were among the many books my favorite librarian, Mr. Hardy, placed in my hand when I was in middle school.

When I introduced myself to him during the intermission, he looked at me and smiled.

It’s a pleasure meeting you, Lystria. Do you teach?

Yes! I do! How did you know?

I actually didn’t. I didn’t know weather to ask if you taught or how old you were! You look so young.

Thank you, Thank you. I get that I a lot. I teach third grade.

Oh, third grade! I still remember my third grade teacher.

He signed my book and we spoke a little bit about his writing habits. I had remembered some of his habits by reading all of his books closely over and over again as a little girl.

Do you still wake up at 6 to write?

He started smiling. Well, Lystria, it’s getting earlier and earlier.

After we spoke, I met other authors. But meeting him and hearing him speak was by far the most nostalgic and settling for me.

Before I left, he introduced me to his wife Mrs. Curtis and author, Andrea Pinkney. They all looked at me in my eyes and told me how thankful they were that I was teaching.

Thank you for teaching our children.  They told me constantly.

I would be lying if I told you I did not leave that event feeling better then when I walked in. The same feeling I felt after reading  Bud, not Buddy or The Watsons go to Birmingham had returned to me when I met Christopher Paul Curtis in person.

Majora Carter

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Last year after doing a mini lesson on Urban Planning and talking about communities, cities and how they are built, I invited  leading urban revitalization strategy consultant, and real estate developer, Majora Cater, to speak to the students and we all were surprised when she actually came!!

She spoke to the third graders in a language they could understand. She shared with them the power of education and how needful it was as she was growing up. Of course they were more interested in the story about her dog walking in her wedding and how she felt when the Bronx was burning. However, she kept them engaged and informed them of what the Bronx used to be before they were born.

As the teacher who invited her, I was extremely happy and proud! I kept smiling the entire day! Especially when my principal said she enjoyed the presentation.

 

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‘Museum Of Sex’ Ads On MTA Buses Raising Eyebrows — CBS New York

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A new ad campaign on New York City buses is raising eyebrows. As CBS2’s Valerie Castro reports, some think it’s too suggestive, while others say it causes safety concerns for bus drivers. “I think it’s terrible, only because the neighborhood is very sensitive to the subject, and it’s inappropriate,” said one resident…

via ‘Museum Of Sex’ Ads On MTA Buses Raising Eyebrows — CBS New York

Funny I saw this article because when I first saw this ad, I thought it was too suggestive as well. I always think about the children. This ad should not be placed on the bus at all. FRONT. BACK. OR SIDES.