Everyone makes an impact on the world, even if they do not realize it. Life is a connection of crossroads of chance and fated happenings, each interaction affecting the course in some way.
With this notion in mind, imagine what it would be like to be a leader, such as the one we look up to during this month, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. For your words, your morals, and your devotion for a better place to ring so profoundly after decades is admirable and why we are proud to continue to spread his teachings in the classroom.
Here at the Fredericktown Alternative Learning Campus, Mr. King’s compassion is the star of our lessons of all grade levels, from writing our own dreams in journal format to be displayed with hope, sessions on his life and peaceful ideals, interactive discussions on how we are are all equal inside (I personally like to use the showing off of a red, yellow, and green apple to compare skin, but show that inside, they all have the same star seeds,) and comprehending vocabularies such as segregation, racism, and boycotting.
For this teacher and member of the media committee for our grand Fredericktown R-1 schools (go Blackcats,) I have had the honor the last two years to compose articles in January about Dr. King and his influence on our community. The morals are too powerful not to admire, but as a building, we wanted to share with our town a different approach. Collaborating with the other teachers and staff at FALC, we asked our students from grades kindergarten to twelfth to look at a list of quotes by the influential civil rights activist and use their own words to describe what it means to them, in our modern world and in their own personal ones. It was a privilege to read all their thoughts and I hope you see that their understanding nature through these few samples will make the world full of possibilities:
“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is a great burden to bear-” Dr. Martin Luther King JR.
“Love is way stronger than hate is dumb. It is not stronger than love. Love is the whole world. I would never wish hate on my worse enemy. Love is one of the best things in this world,” FALC middle school student said.
“What this quote means to me is love people. Don’t hate, because it will come back. This means a lot to me because we feel hate, we feel love. It’s the meaning of life,” FALC middle school student said.
“Keep going forward. My dream is to be a police officer. I want to be safe and help people in the community. I want people to live their lives even with bad things happening,” FALC intermediate school student said.
“Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase,” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said.
“What I think it means is I need to make the first move to change the world,” FALC middle school student said.
“You can kill the dreamer, but you can’t kill the dream,” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said.
“I feel good from this quote because if you think about it, all the dreams that we have can become true, even if we die because other people can make the same dream come true,” FALC middle school student said.
“Martin Luther King Jr. got killed, but Martin’s dream marchers didn’t stop. To me, this quote means to keep fighting. When it’s time, I will do what I need to be,” FALC intermediate school student said.
“Let no man pull you low as to hate him,” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said.
“No matter what happens, always be happy,” FALC high school student said.
“The time is always right to do what is right,” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said.
“There is always a right time for you to change and do what’s right, even though you may not want to,” FALC high school student said.
“We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now,” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said.
“This quote means that we have difficulties in our lives, but we are all in the same boat. You have to move forward. This quote affects my life because we all have different loves, and I’m okay now. This makes me feel better to know we all have problems,” FALC intermediate school student said.
One of the most rewarding aspects of teaching is a concept known as ‘teachable moments,’ seizing opportunities for learning that is not placed or part of our curriculum. I was blessed with one. Sitting in a circle with my students, discussing how we should treat people fairly, one of my students raised her hand and explained, in her heart, a friend is where you not only care and give to your friends, but you hope they will do the same for you.
With a smile and warmth in my own heart, I express, “That is what Dr. King was dreaming of.”
Seeing the light in the eyes of my young ones, and connecting these past words to their lives and futures made everything right for a moment.
The quote from Dr. King that resounds in me now is, “Even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream.”
The struggles of yesterday have not fully vanished, but as long as we continue to dream and strive for things to get better, tomorrow will be bright. With our students taking the helm, the future has some wondrous possibilities.