Amanda Gorman took the podium on January 20, 2021 as the youngest Inaugural Poet at a Presidential Inauguration. There was pin-drop silence as she recited "The Hill We Climb", mesmerizing all who were listening. Every word and every line was stunning in its imagery, clarity and power to inspire hope for recovery, regeneration, rejuvenation : "Somehow we've weathered and witnessed a nation that isn't broken but simply unfinished". She reminded us that this wasn't the end but an opening to continue the work of uniting, of creating community. On that cold January day the air waves resonated with her voice, so confident, poised and reassuring, evoking sentiments of hope, unity, respect, empathy, inclusion and a togetherness that the country had been beginning to forget.
In the world of early childhood education community and togetherness are critical concepts that form the bedrock of joyful learning, effective teaching, and happy classrooms. The primary goal of early childhood teachers is "... to build the social skills and
attitudes needed for learning in a community to keep the group together,
and to engender, maintain and strengthen a feeling of togetherness in
preschool (Hännikäinen 2003, 2005)". So in my graduate class of early childhood teachers I re-played the video of the young Amanda Gorman reciting her powerful poem, and I asked my class how this poem inspired them in their own professional work with young children. My students identified the particular lines that spoke to them the loudest, creating images to express their inspirations. These images appear in the photo gallery below in order of the students named here:
Karen Salamea: We close the divide because we know, to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside. To me this means that we must come together as a community to help our future become a better place without discrimination, social/color privileges, etc. We should put our differences aside because if we don’t, then we won’t be able to work together and help our community prosper.
Lia Albuquerque: Not because we will never again know defeat but because we will never again sow division.
Rashmi Sharma: When day comes, we step out of the shade aflame and unafraid. The new dawn blooms as we free it. For there is always light. If only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it. The light/dawn in my painting represents a new beginning, hope, and rebirth.
Guadalupe Muniz: The
new dawn blooms as we free it. For there is always light if only we’re
brave enough to see it; If only we’re brave enough to be it. When
I heard this particular line the vision of flowers blooming and the
dawn breaking through the gray sky came to mind and that’s something
really beautiful to see
and feel because it symbolizes a new beginning.
Jamelin Gomez: We will rebuild, reconcile and recover. And every known nook of our nation and every corner called our country, our people diverse and beautiful will emerge, battered and beautiful. Based on the line that I choose from the poem I created an image and the image that I created represents unity among the diverse people in the USA.
Frances Vellair: We are striving to forge a Union with purpose. To compose a Country committed to all cultures, color, characters, and conditions of man. That is what we as Early Childhood Educators strive to do daily, forge a Union with dignity, respect, and LOVE for all cultures.
Keisha Lavia: When day comes we step out of the shade, aflame and unafraid, the new dawn blooms as we free it. This quote brings to mind the beginning of a new day. For me the sound of roosters signals the beginning of a new day.Shannakay Shaw: I focused on the powerful words of the poem while still authentically representing the colorful aspect of the original image to preserve the meaning. I connected the different shades of skin color and the colors of the rainbow to the overall theme of the poem.
Allan Molas:If we merge mercy with might, and might with right, then love becomes our legacy and change our children's birthright. As a good citizen of this country we are duty bound to take up space, touch lives of other people, spread mercy, and increase the virtues of faith hope and charity within our family and the whole society.