A Dreamer

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. Eleanor Roosevelt

Are you a dream builder or a dream stealer? We have all had dream stealers in our life. They take away from our ideas, our hopes, and our ….dreams.

Did you have a dream stealer in your life? Maybe they were a family member, a stranger, a trusted friend or a teacher. Sometimes we hold on to those thoughts. They hold us back. They become part of our self-talk. They can be replayed so easily in our mind. They sap us of our energy and hope. Sometimes just a casual teasing can steal someone of hope.

Hope is powerful. Leadership author John Maxwell says, “if there is no hope in the future there is no power in the present.”

Rarely in life have I seen someone intentionally steal someone’s dream. Criticism seems to come from everywhere so easily today. A quick look at social media, and there it is. With our children, we tend to laugh at their outlandish hopes in an effort not to set them up to fail. In doing so we might just be stealing something beautiful.

Ever met a child that is beyond her years in wisdom? Let me introduce you to Uma.  An intelligent, verbal, second-grade girl who is full of life. Uma was a dreamer! So when Uma came to me and said, “Mr. Calabrese, I think homeless kids need books. Homeless kids should have books to read. Books teach us things and help us to be better. I think we should collect books for homeless children.” Wow. I was looking at a second-grade student who understands that helping others makes for a better community and that showing empathy and caring are more important in life.  She was sharing a dream that would add value to others and create empathy in an entire school community. How could I stand in her way?

Uma’s letter to Shelters Inc in Concord, California

We booked a meeting to set up how we could do this. Yep, that’s what I said; A second-grade student booked a meeting with me to lay out a plan to collect books for homeless students. Uma stopped and thought about when she was free and said, “I can meet Thursday at recess.” Nothing was going to stop her, not even my schedule.

We met and we discussed her dream. A book exchange was started that year at Loma Vista Elementary School. For every 2 books students brought in, they got to “exchange” for one. Students got books new to them and all the extra books were to go to a homeless shelter. I then asked Uma to find a shelter to take the books to.

In a few weeks, Uma arranged another meeting. She had found a homeless shelter in Concord with her dad. Although a bit overwhelming at times, boxes of books came in. Uma’s dream came true. The book exchange was a success. Over the years it tweaked and changed but Uma saw her dream become a reality and helped others. I needed to get out of the way of her dream and help her create a plan of action.

Dreams have power. Uma’s dream impacted others. Don’t underestimate the power of a dream. I heard a speaker once say Martin Luther King Jr. did not say “I have a great plan.” he said, “I have a dream.” Isn’t that true? Dreams inspire us to be part of something bigger than ourselves. They ignite something within us as a community to make a difference.

 As I think about the outcome of the conversation that day, I can’t help but think about the kids in a homeless shelter looking at a book, a book that might give them hope or joy. An entire school community thought of others and not themselves. Imagine that!  I was reminded of why I become a principal: to impact kids’ lives. Truth be told my life was impacted. I learned that day that I can open doors. Uma learned that her ideas had hope, that she could help others, that she could make a difference.

Successful book exchange in 3rd grade.

Let your kids dream. Let them explore. Be realistic within reason if your son or daughter wants to give all their money to a shelter, guide them, and maybe together you can volunteer. Maybe your child can make a donation. Perhaps the dream is outlandish, but ask yourself  “is it possible?” If it is possible and beneficial, then why stop it? Maybe your daughter wants to stop to give her lunch to a homeless person. Although it might be a risk you are not comfortable with, find a way that is and do it. Be intentional. Develop their character. Think of your words before you crush a dream. Let them dream. Get out of the way of their dream! Dreams have power; they give hope; they change lives! Never underestimate the power and ideas of a child, especially a second-grade brown-eyed girl named Uma!  

4th Grade- Look at those boxes of books!

Here are 15 suggestions for encouraging kids:

Thank you for your kindness.
I appreciate how you put yourself in someone else’s shoes.
I like how you pursue new ideas!
I appreciate what a good listener you are.
I like how you use words to describe your feelings.
You’ve been a good friend to ………  because…
You showed enormous strength in handling this challenge.
Your optimism is contagious.
It’s great to see that you believe in yourself.
It takes courage to stand up for what you believe in.
I’m so glad you asked for your teacher’s help.
You analyzed the problem, then devised a great solution!
You achieved your goal with a lot of hard work.
I love your sense of humor!
Your imagination is awesome!
Keep dreaming!
Adapted from:  https://www.rootsofaction.com/

With something to think about…
your friend, Chris.

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In my life I have been and am a, dad, husband, son, teacher, principal, director of students, farmer, story teller and hopes of being a writer. I have worked with preschoolers to high school aged students. My students taught me so much over the years I have shared these stories, some humorous, some serious, but always a lesson. Hence the title is a play on words- Teachable Principal.

2 thoughts on “A Dreamer”

  1. What a beautifully written story. Thank you for all that you do in helping our kids develop leadership skills at such a young age. I am truly touched by what this kiddo keeps accomplishing. As a parents it’s truly humbling for me to know that her actions are recognized by others in such a positive way. Thank you again!

    Liked by 1 person

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