Kenneth Carroll is a teacher, counselor and educator for the young. He raises our kids to self-value and esteem with his life and work. After the classroom, he repairs and restores. In the classroom he inspires. His life and writing show that Imagination is just another word for Freedom. - Grace Cavalieri
After School Program
(In honor of the decade of DC WritersCorps Poets)
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Mathew 19:14
They come to us as the same bell that warns of fire, begs them rudely to leave its deteriorating edifice, they come cornrows and sagging pants, shoes untied and dirty faces, smelling of youth and desperation and hope.
They come to us like children fleeing nightmares,
arms and legs akimbo, screams announcing fright,
like family reuniting, hugging us in violation of regulation, like returning abductees seeking embrace & remembrance.
They come to us with faces bludgeon by standardized tests, core curriculums absent of poetry, with smiles bent in half by failure, as fugitives sought by centuries of policies seeking their enslavement.
They come bruised by teachers who scream at them for their circumstance, who batter them because of their below grade level reading, who deride their struggle to grasp algebra
Who see them as roadblock to professional ascendency.
They come to us to release their anger, to curse our names as representative of the names that have frustrated them,
to have the letters and labels around their names, (IEP, Disabled, E.D.,) removed like old bandages.
They come to us to hear us celebrate their simple presence, to acknowledge their heartbeat, to validate their company.
To gird them against the ravages of the day or the anticipated dangers of home.
They come to hear tales, to have verse read to them, to be excited by story and song, to receive the gift of creation,
to have their tiny voices amplified, to take home a page or a book, to believe in the music of themselves.
They come to us to be honored as spirit and student, to be pupil in pupil, an image in someone’s eyes. They come to us,
because if we do not, no one will ask them about their day, tell them they are loved, remind them they are holy.
They come to us and are reluctant to leave, they meander, have one more thing to say, request an extra snack, a final touch, a tentative promise of tomorrow before they follow a waning sun toward home.
Kenneth Carroll is the author of a book of poems, So What! For the White Dude Who Said This Ain't Poetry. Carroll is the DC Site Coordinator for D.C.WritersCorps, an arts and social service program founded by the NEA and AmeriCorps that was honored in 1999 by the national Coming Up Taller Awards. Kenneth Carroll was honored at Clinton’s White House for his work with the Peace Corps. He’s the past president of the African American Writers Guild, served on the board of directors of the Poetry Committee of Greater Washington, and was a founding member of the 8Rock Writers Collective. He’s read his work in various venues including college campuses. Carroll has three children and is married to Joy, who is a playwright.