The MEGnitude of Change

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Dec 02 2012

‘Tis the season

“Oh man, Sideways Stories from Wayside School? That book was my JAM growing up. Do you want The Babysitters Club series, or can I have ‘em?”

Right now, I’m sitting in my living room, feeling the unseasonably 75-degree breeze rolling through our window and listening to my roommates divide up stacks of childhood books. Yes, it’s cheesy, but it seems like the perfect way to kick off December and start The Season of Giving.

Back in July, my mom generously shipped all of the house necessities out to Oklahoma City — beds, desks, tables, chairs, clothing, food, baking supplies, and anything else I’d need to in my new life. When she left, everything was unpacked & stored in its new home…except for a few boxes in the corner of my bedroom. Suspicious, I opened them up, only to find stacks and stacks of books from my elementary & middle school years. Books I had absolutely no use for. Of course, I should’ve expected this type of sneaky maneuver from my mother — she is notorious for refusing to get rid of sentimental items from our childhood. For years, our basement was filled with McDonald’s Happy Meal toys and Life-Size barbies and scribbled drawings on the back of restaurant placements. As I sorted through the books, I imagined the smirk on her face as she shipped that box my way. Rather than donating the books herself, she now placed the emotional burden on me. I would have to be the one to part ways with dozens of childhood stories I had known & loved. Well played, Mom.

These books have been collecting dust in my bedroom for months, waiting for me to make the final call on their future. What to do with Judy Blume and Roald Dahl? Donating them to Goodwill was the most practical solution, but a) I felt too lazy to drive out there and b) it felt somewhat impersonal. Dropping these beacons of adventure from my childhood at a collection center? Certainly, there had to be a more dignified, and more convenient, solution.

Finally, it came to me — why not donate these books to my roommates’ schools? While my high schoolers may have no interest in reading the trials & tribulations of Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys, I knew of a few classrooms full of middle schoolers that would eat them up, and I knew of a few teachers who would deliver the gift.

So, while the weather may not feel like the holiday season in OKC, I’m slowly finding my spirit of giving — and solving some of my own problems along the way. I can pass along pages to someone else, hoping these characters contribute to these students’ love of learning one paragraph at a time.

If you (or, more likely, your parents) have any childhood possessions sitting on lonely shelves, I highly encourage you to channel your inner-Andy from the Toy Story series and see if there’s a classroom nearby that they can benefit. You can generate some good karma & make a kiddo smile at the same time.

(Yep, I know. Including that Toy Story clip was a low blow. Now, you have to do it.)

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My journey in mathematics and beyond

High School

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