Map Exercise

Here is yet another writing prompt from my nonfiction class. We had to “map out” a place we’re familiar with whether it’s our favorite place, a place we go to all the time, or a past place that we no longer go to. The prompt was geared more towards describing the physical place than actually telling a story of that place.

Enjoy.

            One of my favorite places is inside Trinity church, which I have attended since I was very young. It’s two buildings in one connected by a large hall that is usually rented out. It has two addresses because of this and one area of the building was used for community outreach. It was called Hammond Square Preschool.

One of the two classrooms used to be called the blue room. It was set up into four large quarters making it rather large for a preschool classroom; most people assumed it to be two rooms in one. That was a major reason why the parents loved it so much; it was spacious. I can’t explain the room too much because it’s hard to remember what it looked like. Once the director was fired, the new director turned it into the yellow room. She repainted the walls to a pale yellow and worked with myself and the other teacher to rearrange the entire classroom.

Walking into the room and looking to the right was a rectangular table holding eight to ten kids for snack as well as the puzzles and coloring. Against the wall were two smaller rectangular tables holding about three kids with a shelf in the middle connecting the two. One table was the math center and the other was the science center. Each table had a bulletin board on the wall next to it and each was changed monthly to a different math and science theme. Two tall white cabinets were added in two corners of the room in order to give the teachers more room for supplies as well as shelves built in underneath the counter to store the table choices for the kids to get at their leisure.

To the first left was the book corner, except it was a raised platform. We took six cubbies and laid them flat draping a green rug over to make it more comfortable. We added pillows, stuffed animals, and a white canopy to hang over the area. We added a larger bookshelf so the kids had more variety. Next to that was dramatic play, but it was bigger with a rack to hang dress-up clothes and also a small nook was built under the counter for the kids to play in.

To the second right after walking into the room was the cubby area with a large blue rug for circle time. More shelf space was added underneath the counter in order to store more blocks for the kids. To the second left was the art area with a circular table holding about four kids. Two sinks were added into the room as well as a brand new blue padded easel attached to the wall for two kids at a time to use. Shelves were added in the wall as a drying rack and shelves were added under the counter for white and construction paper for the kids to use. Another white cabinet was added in the corner for the teachers.

Myself and the other teachers were excited for these changes. It looked so much better than the original blue room. It was as though we were starting fresh, which was something we all needed after having a falling out with the old director of the school. The children loved it and the parents were very pleased; especially with the yellow color because they thought the room looked a lot brighter between the paleness of the yellow and also the natural sunlight coming in from the windows.

However, while the building is still there and the church still carries on, Hammond Square Preschool does not exist anymore. I worked there for only two and a half years because back in December 2013 the school closed. The enrollment was too low to keep the school open. It was a devastating time for the current families as well as the teachers. The parents had to find a new school for their children in the middle of the school year and the teachers had to find new jobs. It also hurt the church to have to close its doors since the church owned the preschool and it had been open for a long time. The preschool was a huge part of the church, so it was as though a huge chunk of the church was missing.

The church has a Sunday school program and the classes are always held in the preschool’s classroom. Now since the yellow room is vacant, the church decided it was best to use it as the Sunday school’s official classroom. I am a teacher and the director of the Sunday school program at Trinity church, so it was odd to be rearranging the yellow room yet again to turn it into a Christian classroom; especially since I changed the room only three months prior. It also hurt because I miss Hammond Square—the teachers, the kids, the parents—but I was also glad the Sunday school children were finally going to have a place to call their own. I was excited to be changing the classroom over again. It was as though the space was getting a second chance.

I made subtle changes because I still wanted it to look like a classroom. I also didn’t want to forget how the original classroom looked like because I want to remember playing with the kids, prepping and doing art activities with them, and watching them play and grow. So, instead of the snack, math, and science centers in the first quarter of the room, there are two circular tables creating an eight. The kids sit there when we read the story and also to do a few worksheets. I changed one bulletin board to an interactive Christian activity for the kids and the other one with information and facts about what we’re learning.

In the second quarter, the book corner is still the same, only it has Christian stories and Bibles on the shelves. The dramatic play area is more or less the same as well. The blocks were moved over there and I kept a few pieces from the preschool for the Sunday school kids. I also added in some Christian games as well.

The third quarter now has two rectangular tables. This is where the kids do their craft project after the lesson. The easel and drying rack is still the same as well as the two sinks in case we do a messy project. I rearranged all the art supplies on the shelves for easy access for the teachers and the kids. This is also where they have snack when the lesson is over. The other side of the room, where the cubbies and original block area was, is extra space for the Thrift Shop. The Sunday school is small, so we decided to only have three quarters of the room instead of all four. I bought posters to hang on the walls and the kids will also be able to display their own artwork on the walls since we don’t share the room with anyone anymore.

I loved Hammond Square and it broke my heart when I lost my job. However, the church itself is in a much better spot now that the Sunday school has its own space. The kids from the Sunday school are much happier. They are excited to have the opportunity to hang their projects on the wall and have a special place to play and show off to their parents without having to clean it up precisely for the preschool. Between meeting many families, learning from the teachers, enjoying the company of the children, and that it was my first teaching job, I have gone through a lot in that place. It has changed so much, but I’ve changed because of that. It may change again and again, but it’s a place I hope to never lose.

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Object Exercise

I had my first assignment in my Creative Writing: Non-Fiction class. It was a writing prompt and we had to write a true (hence non-fiction) 2-page story about an object that reminds us of someone or something; some sort of memory.

I thought I would share the exercise with all of you in case any of you writers want to give it a go. I enjoyed doing it and the writing came very easy to me. Here’s mine at 690 words. Enjoy.

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I love jewelry. I really do, but I don’t wear it as often as I would like. Being a preschool teacher, it’s hard to wear jewelry to work just in case a child decides to play with a necklace around my neck or even to tug at an earring and rip it out. So I don’t even bother.

I do have a lot of jewelry, though. I have many dangling earrings; a few necklaces are that dear to me, and a lot of bracelets that I can’t wear because my wrists are too small. I wear them on special occasions and certain holidays when I get dolled up every once in a while, but there’s one bracelet in particular that I never wear.

Despite my wrists being too small I can actually wear this bracelet and I used to—all the time. It was a pretty bracelet and went with just about any of my clothes despite the blue gems. It was small—my size, with alternating round silver and blue gems. Blue is my favorite color and I always liked silver more than gold. Of course, it’s so old that the silver has tarnished and doesn’t sparkle like it used to.

In the middle of these gems were six silver blocked beads, each one baring a letter; R-A-C-H-E-L. I had never had a piece of jewelry that had my name on it, so I was excited when I got it for my 10th birthday. It was personal and I felt as though the bracelet officially belonged to me.

My aunt, Theresa, gave me that bracelet as my birthday present. She gave my two older sisters each a similar bracelet when they turned 10-years-old, so I was kind of expecting something like it; yet, I was still surprised when I opened the small box. Auntie Theresa’s friend made jewelry—whether it was a hobby or it was her job, I don’t recall—but my aunt asked her to make something special for her three nieces for their first double-digit birthday.

I wore the bracelet all the time, even to school. Then, two years later, just two days after my 12th birthday, Auntie Theresa passed away from a sudden brain aneurysm. She was only 32-years-old leaving her husband and two daughters (at the time ages 3 and 1) behind. It was a shock for everyone and certainly a tough time to get through. I kept a closer eye on my bracelet since then, but continued to wear it in her memory.

Then, one day at school in art class, I felt my wrist—I was always touching and playing with the bracelet. The bracelet was gone and I could feel my face flush.

“Where is it, where is it?!” I demanded in alarm.

“Where’s what? Where’s what?” My friend jumped up from her seat only panicking because I was. She looked all around the floor because I was on my hands and knees searching for something she didn’t know what to look for.

The bracelet was on the other side of the art room. It must have fallen off when I went to the sink to wash my paint brush and rinse out my paint cups. For the rest of the day I left the bracelet in my pocket. The clasp wasn’t very good and it fell off a lot at home, but I never imagined it would fall off anywhere else. It was that moment I realized if it fell off at school or someplace else, chances were I’d never find it again and it would be gone forever, just like my aunt.

The bracelet has been sitting in my jewelry box ever since. I want to keep it safe with all my other jewelry. I take it out and look at it every once in a while, but I don’t wear it anywhere in fear of losing it; even if it is just around the house.

Maybe one day I’ll get the clasp fixed and get it shined once more. In the meantime, I’ll always know where the bracelet is and I’m able to keep it near and dear.