Voices from Paolo Freire: "Quarters"


A single eagle quarter against a white background“Clink,” an eagle quarter hits the ground. An eagle quarter is a normal quarter just with an eagle engraved on the back. Eagle quarters are important to me because they are a way I have come to know my grandma who collects them. I have been helping her for about seven years now. I remember when I first started helping her I was only six years old. At the time she showed me the collection there were thousands of silver quarters. Later on, she showed me how to find them and what they looked like and I started helping her that day because I already had one in my pocket!

About a year later my mom remembered she still had her coins from when she was a waiter and got tips many years ago. She brought them to my grandma. They counted them out and there was about a hundred dollars worth of those quarters and my grandma was thrilled about it. Whenever we visit her in Mariposa, California she always mentions that time and gives her thanks to my mom over and over again.

Collecting eagle quarters for her is an all-the-time task but is very simple. The four ways I have of getting them for her are easy: First, I check for eagle quarters in the change I get whenever I buy anything and set those aside for her. Secondly, I will ask my neighbors to check for them to help me find them. Thirdly, I will go to the bank and buy the rolls of quarters they sell and then search through them for eagle quarters and set those aside for her. Lastly--this goes along with the third one--if I have non-eagle quarters in a roll I go to a vending machine and use the coin return option to change them into eagle quarters. Those four core steps are very simple and don’t take that much time. You just gotta always be looking for them.

One thing that motivates me to go out and collect them is thinking about how happy my grandma will be and what she will say. Whenever my grandma hears that I have been collecting them on a phone call she always gets excited. When she comes and sees the quarters she gets excited and says, “Oh my god wow you thought about me and did it.”

Last week my grandma came over for a week and I gave her more than twenty dollars worth of eagle quarters throughout her visit which made her very happy. I then asked her how many eagle quarters she had so far from the visit and she said she had gotten thirty dollars worth of eagle quarters so far (she had only been there for four days at that point). She then told me that she has over ten thousand dollars worth of eagle quarters. To put that into perspective that’s over forty thousand quarters. She hopes to have one hundred thousand dollars in eagle quarters before she dies.

Taylor Jackman was born in the cold and windy Sheridan, Wyoming though he now lives in Tucson, AZ. He goes to school and is in 7th grade. In his free time, he likes to play video games and hang out with friends.

Voices from Paolo Freire features essays from middle school students at the Paolo Freire Freedom School in Tucson, AZ. These essays were written during a series of workshops with classroom teacher Adrian Provenzano and Writing the Community teaching artist Raquel Gutiérrez.