Sometimes we all need a little push to move out of our comfort zone. Have you done anything to push yourself lately? Has anyone given you an unexpected push?
First, a brief history. As a child, I auditioned for theatrical plays. Usually, I didn't get a part. In 8th grade, I did, but it was the part of a mime. That's right, a non-speaking role, dressed in black with a white painted-on face, while children much younger than me received multiple lines and singing parts. And in 10th grade, I was terribly embarrassed to have forgotten one line during a performance (just one, mind you) only to have the actress playing opposite me practically yell my forgotten line to me in front of everyone rather than just moving on. Suffice it to say, I no longer like to act.
Flash ahead to this past Monday. After school, we had a small group staff meeting. I teach in a Montessori school, and this week was Montessori week, culminating in a whole school assembly on Friday morning. So on Monday after school, in front of other staff, I felt my stomach drop when the principal jokingly said, "When I told the secretary she would have to play Maria Montessori on Friday, she responded by taking a week-long vacation." Then, in all seriousness, he looked across the table at me and said, "So, Sarah, on Friday you get to be Maria. Have fun with it."
In just seconds, my comfort zone was effectively annihilated. I couldn't say no, plus I realized I already had a costume. (At a past job, I had regularly dressed up along with all of my students for a day in a one-room schoolhouse.)
And you know what? It wasn't so bad. In fact, it was fun. I kept it a secret from all but a few staff (including those who had been at the staff meeting) and my young daughter who attends half day daycare and would be at the assembly on Friday. On Wednesday, I told her what to expect. I told her I would be dressed up and that the kids would probably laugh and that it was okay if they did. She responded by saying, "Okay, Mama. I'll laugh at you too."
On Friday morning, I greeted my class as they began their day and then changed and hid until it was time to go onstage. Some of the youngest children at our school, really believe that Maria Montessori flew all the way from Italy to visit their school. Meanwhile, one of my students called out, "Hey, Maria Montessori died and was reincarnated as Sarah!"
All in all, it was a fun morning for all. The youngest students sang about their school. The lower elementary students shared qualities that begin with the same letters as M-o-n-t-e-s-s-o-r-i, the upper elementary students shared a slide show and skits of Dr. Montessori's life, and the middle school students did some impromptu acting based on Montessori quotes. And through it all, Maria Montessori was the guest of honor.
Being Read Across America on the same day also had its perks. As I sat for a photo shoot after the assembly, the lower elementary students returned with the Cat in the Hat (one of their teachers had dressed up as the Cat and read to them). I smiled at her and said, "Hey, you're famous too!"
I wonder if Maria Montessori ever guessed she'd have her picture taken with a literary cat?
S.L. Wallace is the author of the Reliance on Citizens trilogy and Retrospection.