In order to get ready for the task of interviewing, I usually invite a guest to come to the classroom, and give the students ample time to practice this skill. Additionally, the kids practice note-taking, summarization, and generally—all about being a professional.
However, on this particular Tuesday I had failed to find a suitable person to be interviewed. I had decided to instead let the students ask me questions to practice their newly-acquired skills. However, as I sent them back to their desks so we could begin, the classroom door opened and in walked a woman who was…how do I say this?
I say odd in the best of ways. In fact, the best way you can use that word is how I choose to use it now.
She looked completely lost as she sauntered into the room—having come in completely on accident. Her eyes blinked slowly behind her oversized spectacles, ivory and silver accordion in tow. I immediately thought about calling the office for help. Then a thought struck me…this could be a silver lining to a proverbial black cloud. After all, I was in need of a subject to be interviewed and—quite conveniently—this woman happened to come by. Surely there would be no shortage of interesting things about her.
So instead of calling the principal, I asked if she would consent to be interviewed by my fifth graders. She smiled, somewhat confusedly, and whispered that that would be fine.
I could tell that many of the students were unsure what to make of this woman who looked somewhat like a flower power child gone gypsy. However, when I said they’d be practicing their interviewing skills, the room was a flurry of paper and pencils, blank pages appeared on desks, fluttering like pigeon wings.
I must say that I was impressed with my students…they were polite and asked excellent questions, however, I think the kids were more in a state of shock than awe. Some of them looked nervously around the room as she strode to the front as if she were taking her position center stage at Woodstock itself.
We soon learned that her name was Mary Sunshine—though, hating this name, she changed it to Lieannaconnanaannaconnadonna, and she was a world traveler in search of the perfect donut.
Before long, she decided to dazzle the kids with a little polka which she promptly began to play on the accordion she’d surnamed, “Baby.” I feel pretty bad though, Joey really gets nervous around new people—especially people he isn’t comfortable with. I hope she didn’t notice that he started crying because he was scared.
When she was finished, the kids began to ask her a few more questions. Though the questions were very appropriate and well thought out; many of the students were confused at her answers. When she said she was born on a little island off the coast of Iowa. One or two of them exchanged wary glances—I could see little cogs turning in their minds…was there a coast off of Iowa?
I could tell that the kids were just being nice…and most of them weren’t sure what to make of Mary Sunshine. When one of the boys was asked if he’d rather have a car or an accordion, I knew he was being polite when he said that he’d rather have the accordion. Poor kid, having to lie to a complete stranger.
Before I knew it our time was up, and now was moment for little Mary Sunshine to make her way back to wherever she was going. I couldn’t say that I was sad to see her go…having her leave lifted a huge weight off my shoulders.
Yeah, I guess she thought that she was really something…I mean, she wrote about it on the internet…you could read more about that here.
P.S. By the way...today my class learned about writing different kinds of leads. These are the leads they came up with when writing about their experience yesterday with Mary Sunshine. I hope you enjoy them…
- The donut-eating, world-traveling, accordion-playing girl actually turned out to be pretty cool.
- Just imagine a girl playing her accordion in the streets; she has no job, no shelter, and hardly any money. Her income comes from her accordion…
- Kids, how would your parents feel if you moved out at 14 and changed your name to Lieannaconnanaannaconnadonna?
- “Don’t take yourself too seriously,” Said Lieannaconnanaannaconnadonna. Good advice from a woman who travels the world in search of perfect pastries…
- A five year-old woman who travels the world playing the accordion searching for the perfect donut?
- What would you do if a crazy lady comes and tells you, “I’m searching the world for the perfect donut?” If you’re anything like our fifth-grade class, you’d be shocked.
- Crazy. It was a crazy afternoon in Mr. Z’s fifth grade class when Lieannaconnanaannaconnadonna came into the room toting her accordion with a smile as big as Christmas.
- Lieannaconnanaannaconnadonna. No, it’s not a disease. It’s not an animal. It’s not even a real word, that is, unless you’re her.