Monday, October 11, 2010
There's a New Blog in Town
First things first—a shout out to Linda Salzman. Just as we must become parents to appreciate our mothers and fathers, I now understand the effort our blogmaster has made to keep I.N.K. running smoothly—from pinpointing the visitor counter as the culprit that gummed up the other software to making sure posts were scheduled and published. This is no easy task. Thank you, Linda.
I have come to this new realization because I’m now a blogmaster myself. This year I’m the author-in-residence of the Michael J. Perkins Elementary School, which is right in the middle of Old Colony Housing Project, which is right in the middle of South Boston. For those of you who don’t live in Boston, perhaps you remember the huge fights in our city about desegregating the schools in the early 70s. Southie, primarily an Irish-American neighborhood at the time, was right in the thick of it. Others of you might have seen Clint Eastwood’s Mystic River; its story took place in South Boston. Ben Affleck’s movie, Gone Baby Gone, was filmed in Old Colony.
Times have changed in many ways. Some of South Boston has been gentrified. The kids who attend the Perkins School look like an assembly of the United Nations. But Old Colony still has the red brick institutional design that labels its residents. Soon that’s going to change too. Stimulus money is bankrolling Phase 1, taking the first part of Old Colony down and constructing zero energy buildings in its place.
The Perkins School is literally across the street so its students have the best seats to watch the show—to find out about construction and sustainability, to think about their community and their relation to it, to learn to write about it. Hence the blog, hence the author-in-residence, hence me.
The day before school started, I went to a meeting of all the teachers. Most of it was about bus schedules, etc. But principal Barney Brawer also talked about how this massive renovation could double as a living museum, offering lessons in science, math, and writing to children in every grade. Then I talked about ways I hoped the blog could fit into curriculum and classrooms, and the thrill of having one’s work published for all to see.
Later a teacher came up to me and said, “You know what excited me most about your suggestions? You mentioned brainstorming with the kids about who they can ask to get answers for their questions, then actually talking to these experts. That’s a whole new idea for them. It’s something they need.” Her comment made me very happy.
So come visit the PerkinsBlog, subscribe even. Some day I’ll figure out how to install a visitor counter without gumming up the works.