“Can we run to the basketball court?” was the last thing that I heard before the commotion broke out. “TURTLE, A TURTLE!” “Everyone, I see a turtle!” Two girls screamed out in a chorus. When I looked down by my feet, I saw a little critter, the size of a 50¢ piece. It looked like it was covered with powdered cinnamon sugar. The first thought that popped into my head was “Oh my gosh, we could have stepped on it, but this must be it’s lucky day.” Then I thought, “I can’t let this moment pass without calling everyone over.” “Hey folks, come over here, there is a turtle.” The rest of the class ran over like stampeding buffalos, then stopped in their tracks, made a circle and sat down.
There was much chatter and many questions. I knew inevitably someone would ask, “Can we keep it?” I started to debate with myself. “If we keep it, I don’t have a turtle curriculum.” “That doesn’t matter, you’ll develop it as you go.” “Well, there is a Blanding’s turtle conservation project going on. What if this is Blanding’s turtle and we let it go? We will have missed the opportunity to participate.” “Go for it. Keep it. You can call the local turtle experts to get all the help you need.”
No sooner than I finished the debate, did that moment arrived. “Can we keep it?” a tiny voice chirped. Everyone held their breaths, waiting to hear my decision. “If we take it in, we need to understand that it isn’t a pet. The purpose of taking it in would be to act as stewards and raise it through the winter to give it a better chance of surviving.” I explained. A collective “Yeah!” filled the play ground. Little did I know, when we set foot on the playground that afternoon, that our school year would be changed forever. We are all the better for being the stewards of our guest turtle, Rocky.