Kimberly Krauklis recalls a time she gave one of her students a little, inexpensive journal.
Krauklis, who teaches writing to seventh graders at Alston Middle School, said the student just lit up when she received the journal – a small gift meant to be a place where the young girl could pour out her poetry. Over time the student eagerly would show Krauklis her little journal and all the progress she had made within its pages.
Krauklis is finishing up her rookie teaching year at Alston, and is an avid writer herself. Every day at school her students have a “free write” session during class where they can jot down anything that comes to mind – and some students are brave enough to share what they write. Krauklis recently conducted a poetry slam and was impressed with what her students came up with.
That is why Krauklis is on a mission. She wants to collect 100 journals to distribute to her students by the time school starts up again in August.
“There is just something great about a new journal,” she said. “It’s something more special than just your notebook.”
Krauklis’s project is, basically, relying on the kindness of strangers. She has 800 Facebook friends and thought if she could get one in 10 to donate a journal, she would be good to go.
“I thought, ‘I can do this,’” she said. “I thought it would be a great way to start the school year with them, just to show them I care.”
Krauklis took to the Internet to promote her project – she sent out tweets to her favorite authors and posted her request on a blog called onehundredjournals.wordpress.com. She wrote how she felt a notebook would emphasize that each student has a story to tell, and deserve a chance to find their voice and develop their skills as writers.
“It’s amazing when you give them little things, how much they light up,” she said. “It just makes your heart feel fuzzy inside.”
As the school year has progressed, Krauklis feels her students have definitely grown as writers. For their poetry slam, students got into it. Krauklis told students to dress in all black to look chic and after every poem recitation the class would snap their fingers instead of clap.
After the poetry slam session Krauklis asked her students what they learned through the experience and a lot of them requested to do poetry slams more often. A few said it helped them overcome their stage fright.
So far she has about “15 to 20” journals she found in clearance sections at stores such as TJ MAXX and Marshalls to give out at the start of next school year. Krauklis requests that donated journals should be hardcover and have lined paper – approximately 150-200 pages. The journals need to be “school appropriate” and not contain themes of drugs, sex or religious messages.
Krauklis encourages donors to write an inspirational message to the young writer on the first page of the journal. Journals can be sent to Alston Middle School and addressed to Ms. Krauklis.
She hopes greeting students with new journals will show them the school genuinely cares for them.
“My school is wonderful,” she said. “Teachers care about these kids so much. I just want them to know off the bat that we love them, and we do – I call them my kids.”