I had a chance to visit one of the Wilson-Gray branch’s after school programs today. I got to Noah Webster School a few minutes before the school day ended. I passed a few small groups of children in the hallway, and they seemed so friendly (and so cute!). They smiled and waved to me, and a couple of them whispered hello.
Elementary school children are generally a friendly and curious group, but these guys seemed extra intrested in me. I didn’t really think about it, though, and continued on to the cafeteria to chat with the staff while we waited for the kids.
As the tables filled up, I walked around the cafe to talk with everyone (I love to meet new kids- one of the best parts of my job!) At each table, at least one child asked me if I “work here”- usually while checking out my nametag. When I got to the kindergarten table, some of the kids I’d seen in the hallway were drawing and talking together. I sat down to ask about their pictures, and Alina was excited to share hers. Then the kids took turns reading my nametag (“Shelly” is a tough word for kindergarteners- it was hard work)
Too quickly, I had to leave, so I walked around again to say good-bye. When I got to Alina’s table, she quickly flipped over her picture, wrote her name on the back, and gave it to me.
I had never met any of these kids before 3:00 this afternoon. But now I have new friends hoping to see me again tomorrow. I’d like to think that it was my sparkling personality or my amusing conversations- but I know that it was my nametag that drew these kids to me. When they saw my blue and purple “Y”, they knew they were going to like me.
The staff at the Noah Webster program have taught these kids an amazing lesson this year- the kids probably don’t know that we stand for “Youth Development”. And I’m sure that they don’t know about our mission to “put a caring adult in the life of every child”. But they’ve LIVED our mission this year. They know that the people who wear our “Y” are caring adults- and they’re excited to meet more of them.
It’s a heavy thing to think about. Putting my nametag on tomorrow morning is going to be a little more exciting!