Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Courage is the power of the mind to overcome fear.” At PNA, “We educate students to be exceptional learners and independent thinkers of vision, courage, and integrity.” Students at PNA demonstrate courage just by coming to school during a pandemic. Students also practice courage daily during Morning Meeting and Closing Circle. They not only speak in front of their peers but also share a belief, something about themselves, or their knowledge on a topic, knowing that not everyone will agree with them or understand.
Because courage is power, we must practice using it early and often. For the last two weeks, students have been using their reading fluency and comprehension skills to perform poems and plays in front of their peers. Last week, they performed winter plays to get an idea of what it takes to read, understand, and perform. Despite being nervous, students did it! When I was a kid, my teeth would chatter before speaking in front of people, so I know this took courage. For some, the courage was reading to someone else; for others, it was standing up and speaking in front of their peers or challenging themselves by memorizing their lines and finding the creativity to make props to entertain their audience.
This week, students learned about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. They listened to the story, Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Doreen Rappaport and looked at cause and effect to understand what Dr. King stood for and the courage he had. They also made a timeline of his life and listened to parts of his most famous speech, “I Have a Dream.” Students then reflected on our world today and what they would like to see change. They then wrote their own “I Have a Dream” speech, which will be typed and displayed at PNA in the coming week.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. also said, “No work is insignificant. All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance.” I know that, although the fear of speaking isn’t the same strife and dangers that Dr. King faced, these first graders will use these skills to overcome challenges and fears to do what is right and use the love they shine on others to uplift humanity, as they do for me.