Ben Franklin Elementary

Kirkland, WA — Today I had one of the most amazing school visits ever. And it had nothing to do with me.

First, there was the beautiful building, as I’ve now come to expect in Google/Microsoft/Nintendo country:IMG_5170IMG_5172IMG_5238 And the warm welcome at the door:IMG_5174Pictured above is my wonderful host, Barbara McElfish, the librarian at Ben Franklin Elementary, and Ernie, the custodian, who had put up the welcome sign. Isn’t it fabulous?!!!

Students had posted things you should know about China to tie in with my books:IMG_5177And there were beautiful decorations in the library:IMG_5178IMG_5179IMG_5181IMG_5182IMG_5183IMG_5184IMG_5185And there was a scrumptious breakfast:IMG_5186Thank you, teachers and staff! Everything was very yummy! I went back for seconds after my first presentation 🙂 !!!

Here second-graders were ready to take notes during my morning presentation:IMG_5280I normally don’t talk about keeping the writer’s notebook with the K-2 students, but this group was ready! Wow! So I gave it to ’em. IMG_5193After that, I signed books for them:IMG_5281Then it was time to have lunch with the young readers who had put together the ABCs of China bulletin board. We ate pizza and salad:IMG_5205With chopsticks!IMG_5206It was fantastic!

All the tables were beautifully set for four, but we managed to get nine of us at one. And Ryan, a second-grader, who was also a marvelous magician, entertained us with magic tricks in honor of Ruby Lu, Brave and True. He had us all in his thrall:IMG_5219In fact, his tricks were so good, that he was asked to repeat two of them.

“This is no ordinary ball,” he said. “It’s a magic ball.”

And it was! It disappeared and reappeared, just like that. It was fantastic!

Then he did the three kings trick again.  Three ace cards become three king cards, just like that.

But they didn’t.

Ryan froze.

“We still love you, Ryan,” Jerome shouted without missing a beat.

“Yeah, we still love your tricks,” said Brandon, Jerome’s older brother, who was sitting next to him.

Then many shouts of “Yeah, we still love you, Ryan,” surrounded Ryan and filled the library.

I have never in my life heard so many children heal another child like that, on the spot.

It was truly amazing.

I wanted to cry.

But I didn’t.

I was wearing mascara and had another presentation to give and a writers workshop after that.

But when I began speaking to the young readers in the next presentation, I knew that there was nothing I could tell them that was more important than the words spoken at lunch. So I told them what had happened and how I had already jotted it down in my writers notebook.

It’s important to keep your writers notebook with you at all times, I said, because you never know when an idea will come rushing at you. You never know when something will happen right in front of you that you could use for a writing assignment or a book. And if you wait until you get home to write it down, it’ll be gone, forever.

What I didn’t tell them was, sometimes, something will happen that you will never forget. You see it over and over. You hear it again and again. It stays with you forever. It changes you.

You don’t need to write it down.

But you should.

Then you should tell everyone you know so that they can write it too — on their hearts — and be changed.

Thank you, Ryan, for being an absolutely marvelous magician.

Thank you, Jerome and Brandon.

Thank you all of you whose voices I still hear.

Thank you, forever.

Here’s Jerome, Brandon and their little sister, Trisha:IMG_5220They could be Alvin, Calvin and Anibelly!

5 thoughts on “Ben Franklin Elementary

  1. What a beartiful blog! I’m so glad you enjoyed your visit to our school. With a second presentation still ahead of you I’m glad you were able to hold back tears at the actions of these students; I got teary reading about it! Thank you for reinforcing the power of kindness and for the time you spent with Franklin students. We hope you’ll come back and visit again one day!


  2. Our day was MAGICAL! Preparing for your visit was fun, but having you at Franklin was the icing on the cake! I love, love, loved your message about failure and am personally excited to try your suggestions as a ‘wanna be author’ (metaphors and lists).
    PS. Your signing on my author apron will go down in history with me!


  3. As a teacher in training, I get so caught up in the challenges of teaching that I forget to write down these inspirational moments (or I miss them completely). Thank you for this great reminder of the power of seemingly small moments and the kindness and support that people show to one another. I’ve always been impressed by the community that has been fostered in this school. Your impression on the visit reflected this beautifully.


  4. Thank you for coming to Ben Franklin. Calvin, Alvin and Aniebelly… I meant Brandon, Jerome and Trisha cannot stop talking about your visit. It was a memorable experience to have lunch with you. I hope you’ll continue write Ruby Lu series…. Trisha and I love reading it together. But if not, we’ll start reading Alvin Ho with the boys 🙂 Enjoy the rest of your stay in WA….


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