Educating the mind without educating the heart is like no education at all. ~Aristotle
Today I chaperoned a trip with some of my NJHS 7th and 8th graders to a local senior living facility. We were going there in honor of Read Across America Day. The 17 students spent their lunch recess perusing the many picture books I have in my classroom. Some brought their own favorites from home. We filled three canvas bags with books to be read in three different locations within the facility.
Together with a few parents we left after school to spend an hour reading and chatting with the residents. It was our first time there, so we didn’t really know what to expect. Upon arrival we split into three groups and went to our various locations.
I accompanied a group to the memory care unit. I have a very special place in my heart for those sweet souls. My mother spent almost two years on a floor just like this one in another facility. Since her passing in September, I relish my memories of her and the happiness that was brought to her by volunteers who visited her and played music, made crafts, or sang songs.
The staff brought in folding chairs so that the students could sit next to the residents who were in regular chairs or wheelchairs. They read their chosen stories and then either switched places or books with another student. We weren’t permitted to take pictures for legal and privacy reasons, but the faces of the kids and the residents will be etched in my memory for a long time.
They were sitting side by side reading or listening so intently. I watched as the seniors pointed to pictures and as students engaged them in the book. Some residents were more chatty than others; some were making the students laugh. I was grinning from ear to ear. I think I know now how the Grinch must have felt when his heart “grew three sizes that day.”
I am looking forward to our next visit in a couple of week. I hope this is the beginning of a long relationship of inter-generational camaraderie. One thing that did slip my mind in the nearly six months my mom has been gone is just how HOT these facilities are kept. I think next time we will be wearing school t-shirts instead of regular uniforms!!