By: Lindsay Hansen
At Bernardston Elementary School, the Kindergarten class has been working diligently as A-class scientists, engaging in experiments concerning forces that are strong or weak, pushing or pulling, stable or dynamic. Although my interactions with the scientists in these ‘laboratory’ settings is secretarial (facilitation and safety), to ensure they do not fall out of their chairs with excitement or stick melting crayons up their noses, I’ve found that the ground-shaking excitement and tactile intrigue in the ease of melting colored wax mirrors the way Hawley, SCA, and Americorps make me feel.
SCA Massachusetts Americorps has been a river of a time. It is now January, and the eighteen of us members/coworkers/roommates/friends are not only in the thick of a true and proper Berkshire winter, we are now in the thick of education service as well. Forces all around us mold and shape our days; our Mondays, designed for preparation and planning, are stable and consistent, while the dynamism of other work days can be predicted and theorized, yet never completely known until the moment is happening. The education of our students, the cultivation of SCA community, and the uncovering of small moments of beauty each day are strong forces that shape our lives here, yet connection to the world outside, to social media and ill-intentions and city life, are weak and fleeting forces. The limited internet and cellular access we have in Hawley, though it may remove us from the world outside, has given us ‘family’ dinners, Monday through Thursday nights, in which conversation and eye contact are the guests of honor, and cell phones make no appearance. It’s a beautiful thing, a force that pulls us together every night.
Our days are an ebb and flow of highs and lows. A peaceful drive through idyllic farm country as the sun peaks its nose above the rolling hills, sending its soft fingers through the spruce boughs to warm the snow dusted fields is jolted into the equally real, simultaneous reality of loud and screaming and crying play, fantastic make believe, emotionally taxing and indescribably beautiful world of elementary school that hits you in the face as soon as you park the van. Working at an elementary school is a study of forces and motion all on its own. We push ourselves to provide as best an education and experience for our students as we can, hoping they can pull out of our lessons all that we have planned. However, as I am learning increasingly strongly each and every week, my students pull knowledge not out of every lesson, but every word, every sentence, every spruce bough and sun beam that reaches them, and push it back to the world, and to me and my teaching partner, as energy, enthusiasm, excitement, inquiry. They have been the strongest force of all.