Imagine Going Back to Your Elementary School 36 Years Later With a Message?
By Lisa Caprelli
Even though I grew up poor, super shy and introverted, my entire elementary school experience was filled with a quest for knowledge.
My Grandma had a fifth grade education because she had to raise her siblings as her mother died when she was 8 years old. She grew up picking cotton in the cotton fields in the small town of La Union, New Mexico. Repeatedly she urged me to “get an education.” And so bright- eyed and eager, I could not wait to go to school, to learn, sit in the first row as close to the teacher as I could to embrace a world of expanding my mind.
Even though I lacked communication skills and felt invisible because I was so quiet and felt as if no one noticed me for who I was, I got meaning from learning as much as I could and from listening and observing everyone around me.
“When you are present with others and not talking, what are you doing?” I’ll ask students on my author visits. “Listening!” voices will yell out. Yes, I was paying attention. Although I wish I was able to speak up more than I did, I am grateful that I learned how to watch and observe. That is probably why I enjoyed writing so much for it felt like my only voice was on paper.
I left Thomas Manor Elementary school at 6th grade and I’ll never forget saying to myself, “One day I’ll be back here with something greater to share.” I knew that the girl I once was would change with the passage of time and experience.
With that said, going back to Thomas Manor Elementary this year was one of the most bittersweet moments of my life. The school principal, Mrs. Streslow and librarian, Mrs. Varela, arranged for the entire school (K-3 and then 4-6 grades) to hear my journey and welcome the story and song of Unicorn Jazz. To speak to 600 students who went to the same school I went to and look back upon was magical, overwhelming and meaningful. Students came up to hug me and teachers thanked me for giving inspirational stories about being able to do anything you want, no matter where you come from and regardless of your circumstances.
My three sisters and brother also went to Thomas Manor Elementary School and I am grateful that my sister, a teacher, Suzanne Funk was witness to this special day as well as so many people supporting Unicorn Jazz’s goals.
Want to schedule Lisa Caprelli to do an author visit and sing-along – at your library, school or creative children’s workshop or festival, contact us today for planning a fun event.
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