Sewing for Citizen Schools v.2
I am so pumped after yesterday afternoon, when I spent a couple hours at a middle school teaching a sewing lesson. The classrooms there are filled with kids who are from low-income communities. (Oddly, this particular school is physically in a very wealthy neighborhood, and my jaw dropped when I opened up the Zillow app to see what the gorgeous, San Francisco-style hillside row houses go for.) Surrounding real estate aside, the actual students, mostly from other parts of Boston, don’t have a lot of means. That’s where a program like Citizen Schools comes in. It expands the learning day for kids, providing academic support, apprenticeships with community members, and weekly activities. The kids also have a positive learning environment while their parents are still at work.
My first encounter with Citizen Schools was a couple months ago, when Sarah invited me along to run a lesson. Since, I found a participating middle school closer to me, and with a bit of back & forth emailing, set up a little sewing workshop. I really wish I could post some photos, but you’ll just have to take my word for it. The students had a blast, as did I. After introductions, I asked if any of them sewed, who taught them, what they made. Then had them guess what, if anything, I was wearing that was homemade. Skirt? Yes. Shirt? Yes. Jaaacket?? Yes! They went a little nutty :) I’m hookin’ ’em young, folks. Impressionable young minds, sewing is cool.
Then I told them a brief history of my favorite quickie project, the yo-yo. We defined a running stitch, practiced on scrap, and got down to business. It was fascinating to see how quickly some of them, especially one boy, picked it up intuitively, while a few struggled a little. Note, those few weren’t paying attention during the instructions. And there was one girl who took it upon herself to gather half her circle into pleats, then run the needle through all at once. That’s what I like to see! From there, we added buttons, then glued the yo-yos onto hair clips, headbands or added a pin to the back. I manned the hot glue gun, so the kids wouldn’t get hurt. Of course, I have a huge burn blister from the very first yo-yo. Better me than the students!
They asked a ton of questions, and even though they were excited and loud, they did a pretty great job of staying focused. Especially after an MCAS day. They asked if I was coming back, which was too cool, and I sent them away with instructions and fabric circles for making more yo-yos on their own. One girl was wearing a headband adorned with fabric rosettes, a perfect example of “I can make that”, illustrating how to apply what they learned. Another girl mentioned a cloth pouch she owned, basically a huge yo-yo where the gathering thread isn’t cut. She totally got it.
Teaching is tough. Teaching at-risk kids, at a hormonal age, who might not be getting proper nutrition (nutrition, not food) to fuel their minds & moods, let alone proper anything else, is really tough. I know this was just one afternoon. Not an entire day, five days a week. And I feel a little bad, like I should dampen my excitement a bit, because I know it’s not easy. I almost wish I hadn’t read that post this morning, as my post is in no way meant to counteract Sunni’s. All it’s meant to do is share what I’ve been up to this week. Which was, in effect, breeze into a classroom, connect with kids for a few hours, get them excited about sewing and crafting. Totally different experience than day in, day out.
I hope y’all are having a great week :D