Change for Good

By Jennifer Grant

Illustrated by Cathryn Pratt


In the beginning, it was just decorating jars and painting signs and telling anyone who would listen to bring their spare change to school. In the end, it became something much more than nickels and pennies.

Wait—let me back up.

Last summer Mom and I moved here from downstate, just a few weeks before middle school started. You might guess (and you’d be right) that I was nervous. Really nervous. The kind of nervous you get when you’re waiting for the dentist to come into the room. Or when you’re called on to give a report. Your heart pounds. Your face gets red. Your stomach feels hollow. You can’t remember what to say.

And the worst part was that the distractions of getting ready for the new school year—new clothes, new backpack, new haircut—were not distracting enough. All I could think about was that soon I’d be in a brand-new school where the only person I knew was Ms. Gray who taught sixth-grade social studies. And I only knew her because she was my Mom’s college roommate. As soon as we moved here, they started getting together at our apartment to laugh about how they used to go on double dates and stay up too late and listen to loud music together.

Not to be salty, but when I picked up my schedule and saw that I had social studies with Mom’s friend, I couldn’t decide whether that was a good thing, or the worst thing ever. Would she make a big deal about how I had just moved there or that she and my mom were friends? Would she tell all of their “hilarious” stories to the whole class?

The first day, I sat down in the very back of the room, silently begging: Don’t look at me. Don’t say my name. Don’t say, “Let’s all welcome Liza.”

“I hope everyone had a great summer,” she said. “And I think the way we can be sure to have a great start to the year is to look outside of ourselves. First, I want to tell you about something that happened to me over the break…”

I slouched way down in my chair.


Read the rest of the story in your September/October issue of SHINE brightly!


Want to know more about the author? Visit Jennifer Grant’s website!