It is a place where magic happens. Where airy fancies rule the day. Where kings and cowboys and superheroes court housewives and ballerinas and fairy princesses. When you're here, it doesn't so much matter who you are, or where you were. What matters is what you will become.
I work in an urban Catholic school, nestled among condemned factories and surrounded by a vibrant immigrant community, standing upright like a red brick beacon of New England education. My classroom is a loud, colorful place, the daily habitat of 20 loud, colorful 4-year-olds. We are a diverse group: middle-class, working-class, fresh-off-the-boat-from-Dominicana. When the children color pictures of themselves and their friends, they use peach and black and brown and yellow Crayolas to color their faces.
The most remarkable thing about being here is not the rainbow of faces. The most remarkable thing is that, though they use many colors to paint their friends, these children do not see diversity as "difference." In this classroom, we do not harbor any pre-concieved prejudices. We learn to share, to smile, to laugh, to play, to work together despite different opinions. It does not matter whose jacket is name brand, whose father wears a suit to work, whose mother is struggling to learn English. This is place where all children are inherently equal.
Sometimes I wonder if my class will one day be taught to look at each other as different, if their eyes will be clouded with the darkened haze of prejudice, assumption, fear, and ignorance. I wonder if, as the cares and woes of the grown-up world begin to weigh on them, they will lose touch with these brilliant imaginations with which all things are possible. I wonder if they will continue to grow in mind and heart, with the help of God's grace, understanding that "we are all friends here" is more than just a classroom rule. And I hope that they will always see that, no matter which Crayola you choose to color in a face, it is still a friend that you draw.
It's just a little pre-K classroom, but it is filled with magic, and color, and the hope-filled promise of bright, blessed futures.
Lawrence, MA 2010-2011