Friday, May 21, 2010

Writing Workshop Assignment #1: Gabriel

Editor's note: For those of you who do not know, I am currently enrolled in a online Graduate program through the University of New England. In November I will have my Masters in Curriculum and Instruction (as I say to the kids, ' I am gonna be wicked smaht!'). Anyways, for the current course I am in our assignment was to create a blog to share writing pieces with our classmates. The hope is to simulate a "virtual writer's workshop" that would allow us, the teachers, to better understand the position our student's are put in during Writer's Workshop. I decided instead of re-creating the wheel and creating another blog just for this assignment, I would utilize our school's fantastic blog to share my assignment with the greater school community! My hope is to write about topics that would be interesting for not only my classmates but also friends and family of the Monhegan School. My first topic, one that is near and dear to my heart, our my eighth grader, Gabriel. 

Flash back three years ago to my first year teaching. I was fresh out of college and coming into, not only my first teaching job, but my first teaching job that just happened to be in a one-room school house, on an island, with eight kids in all different grades. I was a nervous wreck. The first day of school I tried to play it cool and act like I had been doing this for years, but on the inside I was a mess. I had gotten through all of my plans by lunch time and ended up having the kids write letters to me in the afternoon to "assess" their writing and have them tell me about their hopes for the school year with their new teacher.
After the kids left for the day I sat down to read their letters. I remember Gabe's vividly. He told me he hoped to not get a lot of homework and to take a trip to Manna sometime in the year. I remember he signed his name at the end of the letter and then wrote, P.S. Your doing grate. I thought to myself now here is a kid who has a kind heart... and who needs a little work on his spelling.

From that day on, Gabe has continuously been a huge support to me at our school. He is always the kind of kid who asks how you are and who wishes you a good day as he heads out the door in the evening. His spelling has improved, and with that so has his maturity. He has become a great role model at our school and as the only eighth grader, has really taken on the role of school leader. He is patient with the younger students and also helps to keep them on task and follow school rules. 

Gabe is a self-proclaimed technology addict. He loves all media: video games, movies, television, the internet, and music. He has a real knack for gadgets and gismos. His bedroom is known around town as the "Video Cave" where he and the rest of the "Noisy Boys" go to play video games or Dungeons and Dragons for hours on end. Gabe is also an avid reader, who loves a great story and is really able to comprehend deeper meaning in text. His genre of choice is fantasy and sci-fi, but presently he and I are reading "To Kill a Mockingbird" and I have enjoyed watching him fall in love with the great literary characters of this novel, as I did when I was his age.
He has a fantastic sense of humor and often causes me to laugh out loud multiple times throughout the school day. He is smart and witty and sarcastic. He is very aware of worldly issues and has a killer memory! He loves my dog, which makes me adore him even more. 
What makes Gabe SO special is the love he has for his family, friends, and home. He is very proud to have lived on Monhegan his whole life. Although he is very excited about heading off to high school, he also knows that he will miss his family, island, and community very much. He likes being an "island-kid." Every time an eighth grader graduates from our school they get a tree planted on island in their honor. Gabe asked to have some kind of pine planted when he graduates. His reason? "Because they are common and blend in. They belong on island." 

Gabe will always belong on Monhegan, but I know he has great adventures ahead of him. I am very proud to have called him one of my very first students. He has a special place in my heart.

Thank you Gabe for your love, kindness, support, knowledge, patience, and humor. 
We will miss you...
but you are going to do "grate".


  1. This is such a cool story! It seems as though the two of you have a great relationship, which I am sure is bound to happen being the only teacher in the area. You mention that Gabe will miss the island when he goes to high school. Do students leave to go to high school? If so, do they attend boarding schools? It makes me curious, as it is something very different from what I am used to. I also wonder how you came to teach there...did you grow up there as well? I just wonder what made you decide to teach on an island. (And, as a huge LOST fan, I am making TONS of connections to that show while reading your post. Not sure if you're a fan of the show, but it gives your writing an entirely different spin!! :))

  2. Jessica I could hear and feel the warmth in your words as I read Gabriel. You make it crystal clear that he stole your heart from that first letter and that your fondness for him has continued to grow. I was also impressed with the way you wove just enough details about life on Monhegan into this narrative to make me very interested in knowing more about your island. Since we will be blog buddies for a few weeks and will be depending on each other for comments, would you please let me know what kind of feedback you are interested in receiving. I can assure you that writing from your heart is not an area in need of improvement! I look forward to reading some more of your pieces.


    Diane Higgins