29 May

Blue’s People. Her Culture. Maria In The School Of Love

by Jon Katz

I invited Maria to come with me to the Bishop Maginn High School with me on my weekly visit, and she surprised me by agreeing to come. I felt strongly she would love it there, as I do. In fact, I’ve started calling the school “The School Of Love.”

Maria is justifiably obsessive about working all day (and many nights), she is trying (and I am urging her) to slow it down a bit and take more time for herself. That is very difficult for her.

I’m not great at relaxing either. We  understand each other.

I told Maria she would connect with the students in the art class, and she would love their wonderful teacher, Sue Silverstein. I was right.

Maria said she doubted they could learn much from her, or that she had any ideas for teaching them. Maria said the same thing about her art classes at the Mansion. They love her there, they especially love her art classes.

She undervalues herself often.

We meet Blue, a senior at the school and an artist who impressed us both. She and Maria hit it off right away, she loved looking at Maria’s fiber art on our cellphones. I spotted one of her paintings (she’s holding it above) and asked if I could sell it for her. She said sure. She said it is a representation of the culture of her people, she is from Japan.

The painting costs $30, if you want it, e-mail me at [email protected].

Maria is a natural teacher. She knows too well what it is like to have  uncaring and remote teachers.  She is also a gifted and passionate artist. Kids pick up on that.

We got to the school around one, Red came too. Many of the students were out taking state tests, it was quiet there.

The students loved Maria, and I thought she and Sue were going to run off together. Maria felt the love in that building, as I have, and neither of us has ever felt it in a school before.

The Bishop Maginn school has a feeling about it, of acceptance and safety, and increasingly, of creativity.

In the late afternoon, after we left, Sue sent Maria a photo she took of the Christerer twins, they wanted to try to sketch Maria’s I Am Enough poster. Maria loved  being there, she was stunned by the feeling in the school and the atmosphere.

There is something very special about this high school, I felt it too, and I have never felt it before.

On the drive home, she was quiet. I asked her what was  going on, and she said she was thinking about the feeling in the school, she couldn’t quite get it out of her mind. These warm and creative and open kids can get into your head. They got into mine.

Please note the art students are using the markers bought for them by the Army Of Good.

The twins are refugees from Myanmar, they are eager to join the new school choir, I got a video of them singing and talking about their lives. I’ll post it tonight. They are using paint and brushes and paper from the Army Of Good.

I was very happy Maria came with me. I’m going back every week and I might ask to teach a writing class for a couple of weeks.

If you are interested in purchasing Blue’s painting – it is about her culture in Japan – let me know. [email protected], I’m asking $30.

(There are four packs of black drawing paper on the Bishop Maginn High School Wish List, they are the only items remaining on the list. Each one costs $11.06 and they have been hanging up there all day, making me a little nuts.

People have given a ton of money to the Bishop Maggin list, and I have no complaints to make, only thanks. I’ll give it a few hours and them buy the four of these packs of black paper if nobody else can. They are in my head, and will keep me up tonight.

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