Before we leave the Arturo Toscanini School in Brooklyn, there is one final lesson I learned.
Today, in Greenwich Village, the doorbell rang. I was in my office- a few moments later my husband came down the stairs with a package from Ms. Glorioso. Inside was a beautiful handmade candle- and a folder full of thank you notes and art from the children of PS 216.
The greatest lesson we learn is to be grateful. Kindness, empathy, camaraderie- all flow from a sense of gratitude. These students come from a gamut of circumstances and backgrounds, but I could see that they are loved. The common denominator in my experience at PS 216 was that the children are loved. This is not to say that here and there they were overcoming issues or mastering socialization- but I can tell you that not one of them embodied the desperation of the unloved.
At school, the teachers are affectionate and show them respect. They embrace order and discipline without having those boundaries quell their enthusiasm and good humor. If you think I found PS 216 extraordinary in every way, I did. But, the cards and letters from the children, filled with gratitude and joy were the greatest gift they could give me.
Where there is gratitude, there is largesse. Where there is largesse, there is a sense of generosity and a commitment to being of service in the greater world. Gratitude shores up self-worth because it teaches us that to acknowledge the effort and kindness of another is to treasure that person. It enriches us to give, but it also enriches us to acknowledge kindness. To appreciate another person’s efforts requires awareness- the teachers understand this and inculcate it in their students. It makes for a better classroom environment, and it can’t hurt at home either.