After a lesson examining Christine King Farris’s book “My Brother Martin: A Sister Remembers Growing Up with the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.” and Dr. King’s historic “I Have a Dream Speech,” third graders in Brian Smith’s class at Islip’s Commack Road Elementary School wondered where dreams like this come from.
“The book was perfect for helping to answer their powerful questions,” Smith said. “For some, dreams like this seem an impossible fantasy, while to others, it’s just a matter of time. My students would come to understand that good dreams, important dreams and the ones that have the power to help and heal can only come from one place, a special place: the heart.”
Following the MLK lessons, English as a New Language teacher Katrina Martinez proposed a question to Smith’s class: “What dreams are in your hearts that could make the world a better place?” To help answer it, the third graders turned for inspiration to the students of Pershing Accelerated School in Missouri, the authors and illustrators of the book “We Dream of a World… From there, the Commack Road students developed their dreams for a better world, which they published on individual “tiles,” illustrated with a personal touch and later joined together to form a “Mosaic of Dreams.”
“This project was truly a collaboration of inspired dreamers,” Smith said. “Ms. Martinez challenged the students to not only dream big as individuals, but to understand that their strength comes from their bond, developed out of a mutual respect for each other’s differences, personalities, interests, colors and voices. My students puzzled patiently through the mosaic’s construction by practicing Dr. King’s message, that the power of our words – spoken with patience, kindness and respect – are what makes dreams come true for everyone, and at the conclusion of the project, they enjoyed sharing their enthusiasm for their work. One student said it best: ‘‘We’re a family in this class, Mr. Smith. Even if we aren’t related to each other, we’re still connected to each other like one.’”