February, 2003 Contest: Which room do you spend the most time in with guests and why?

Congratulations to our contest winner!
Jennifer Denard of Naples, FL

Bang. Bang. Bang. “Mrs. Denard, are you in there?” It is still early evening. The supper dishes are piled in the sink. Nomatter, I open the back door. Its Miranda, one of my third grade students, with a flower and her math book. “Dad wants to know if you’ll show me again.” Her chin is trembling. I smile and accept the flower. “I am just havin’ trouble,” She sighs, wiping her boots on the mat.

I usher her into the dining room. Its really a wide hallway, dimly lit, but with a worn farm table and tall painted chairs. Her flower goes into an empty coke bottle, now a teacher’s centerpiece, and we spread out her schoolbooks for another peek at long division.

“We all have trouble with something,” I say. “Even you?” she asks, looking around my sparse room. “Even me.”

Its a long time before she speaks again. We go over the steps. She practices a few problems. Finally, her brow softens, and I think she is getting it.

Just then, she smiles up at me. “Mrs. Denard, I think I know what you’re having trouble with.”

“Oh?”

“It’s decoratin’ain’t it, Mrs. Denard?”

My guests are my students. Sometimes they need encouragement. Sometimes tutoring. Sometimes it is me who gets the education.