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That Special Class
Dedicated to Mrs. Benton's Class of 2004
Submitted by Jan
There are many special loves in my life - my husband, my sons, my family and friends, but I also love my job. You see, I am a middle school teacher. Most years, I teach students who challenge me to be the very best teacher I can be while not always being willing to reciprocate. But every now and then, a class comes along that gives back as much as you give to them! My 2004/2005 6th grade class was THAT special class.
Our social studies curriculum included learning about the history and culture of faraway places. We went on daily journeys learning new things about what these places had to offer. I knew the kids would probably never visit these famous places of the world, so I tried to make our adventures "come alive". We had wonderful educational experiences throughout the year. But I wanted my students to have one last "memory for a lifetime" experience. Since my husband and I were planning to visit the Hawaiian Islands for our 25th anniversary that summer, I decided a study of the Islands would benefit me and my students. So I developed my game plan.
The time finally arrived for our study of the Islands of Aloha. Every student learned his/her Hawaiian name and addressed me as "Mrs. Penikona". We learned facts about the Islands' formation. We studied the Hawaiian kings and queens. We gathered and shared information about native Hawaiian animals and flowers. We learned to dance the hula and watched videos that made us feel as if we were there. We ALL grew to love Hawaii! However, it couldn't be complete without our culminating activity - a Hawaiian luau.
The big day finally arrived and, with parents' help, our classroom was transformed into a beautiful tropical island. Students were greeted with "Aloha" and given a colorful lei to wear as they entered. They experienced a traditional Hawaiian meal, thanks to recipes from the Internet. They listened to gentle Hawaiian music as they quietly engaged in conversation. Anyone could see that this was a special event for them - like none they had ever had. At the end of the luau, the entire class graciously performed the hula for their parents. Everyone left knowing it was the best school day they'd ever had - one they'd never forget! A wonderful feeling of accomplishment came over me!
The school year ended and my husband and I were able to take that once-in-a-lifetime trip to Hawaii! I experienced, first hand, what I tried to teach my students about - the beauty that Hawaii has to offer the whole world. I was able to send each student a postcard, just to give them their own little piece of Hawaii. To this day, those students say to me, "I remember Hawaii and I still have that postcard you sent me!" I love my job!