The Paper Heart
It was Valentine’s Day at Washington Elementary. The fourth grade had their round oatmeal boxes decorated with red, pink or white hearts and their name printed on the top lid where there was a slit opening for delivered cards to fall through. Anna Sawatsky only had a day to make hers and it was covered with misshapen hearts and funny letters and glue, lots of glue. Anna had carefully written her name on the lid, but didn’t put an opening. She had only been in the class for three days. No one was her friend and sat by her at lunch.
Mrs. Hinkle went to school early that morning, carefully carrying her box of specially decorated heart-shaped cookies. It was her first year teaching. There were so many things she was learning that aren’t taught in the fine colleges. And today was another moment of what can I do for Anna Sawatsky?
A teacher is to be wise, know all the right things to say or do. Mrs. Hinkle loved her students and wanted a part of helping them to grow and mature into loving, caring people besides the knowledge a nine or ten year old should have. She must help them all reach out to the newest classmate. But how?
A bell rang and students loudly entered the room. Their enthusiasm and excitement was contagious. Mrs. Hinkle noticed that Anna was sitting at her desk, was not joining the others in popping little cards in the Valentine boxes. What should she say or do? Time was running out.
Second bell and all students took their places. Their teacher stood at the front of the room and was holding a large size paper heart. Jennifer Preston raised her hand and asked, “What’s that for?”
Mrs. Hinkle replied, “After we say the Pledge of Allegiance”, I’ll tell you a story.”
The class stood and repeated the pledge and then Mrs. Hinkle began.
“Class, I’m so happy to see each and every one of you.” Anna had her eyes on her desk, not looking at her teacher. Mrs. Hinkle continued. “How many know the story of the beginning of St. Valentine’s Day?” A few hands went up. “Good. Then let’s tell the story again for those who don’t quite remember.”
Then with much drama and acting, Mrs. Hinkle told the story of a young girl befriending prisoners. How brave the girl was, and showed much love to strangers and cared about their needs.
Then she asked a question. “Is there anyone we know today that could use a friend?”
Most of the class nodded their heads.
“This paper heart is to be passed around today. When I draw a heart on the marked board, and if you are holding this heart, that is the signal to pass it on to a new friend. And as you do I want you to say something nice to that person. Do you think you can do that?”
Again, heads nodded and smiles grew larger.
“Since I have the heart first, “ Mrs. Hinkle held is up high for all to see, “I will pass it to a friend.” The whole class seemed to hold their breath, wishing to receive the heart first from Mrs. Hinkle. She started walking around the classroom feeling eyes watching her every step. When she stopped in front of Anna’s chair, she said softly, “Anna,,” the little face of Anna looked up into Mrs. Hinkles eyes. “ I love that you are part of my class. Would you be my friend?”
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