What reason did Mrs. Olinski give Dr. Rohmer for choosing the four members of her academic team in The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg?

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Mrs. Eva Marie Olinski is the primary adult character in The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg, and she is the uniting force in this young adult novel. She is a sixth-grade teacher who has been away from the class room for many years following a sever accident which left her a paraplegic confined to a wheelchair. 

One of her responsibilities is to select the four team members who will comprise the sixth-grade academic team. It is a rather stressful decision for Mrs. Olinksi, and she takes her responsibility seriously. It is assumed that she will do what the teachers from the other grades do: select from the best honor students in her class.

All the other teachers hold competitions to select the best and brightest members for their academic teams, but Mrs. Olinski does not do that. Instead, she takes an entirely different approach, following her heart more than her head. One day she was grading papers and had an epiphany:

She would appoint her team, the way the president appointed his cabinet. She made her decision. Just. Like. That.

Of course everyone wants to know what prompted her to choose the team she picked, and 

Mrs. Eva Marie Olinski always gave good answers. Whenever she was asked how she had selected her team for the Academic Bowl, she chose one of several good answers.

The truth is that she is not exactly sure--or at least is not really able to articulate--exactly why she chose the four people who call themselves The Souls to be on her academic team. Until the end of the story, that is.

When the District Superintendent, Dr. Rohmer, asks her the same question everyone else does, she tells him she chose these four members because of their diversity, though of course she does not mean the same thing by "diversity" as Dr. Rohmer understands the word. In fact, they have a lengthy discussion on this subject. Dr. Rohmer assumes she is simply referring to the diverse ethnicity represented by the group, but in fact she chose them for a different kind of diversity. Though each of them has something unique and special to bring to the team, they each have the same kind of soul, which is exactly why they are unified and work so well together.

In the end, Mrs. Olinksi realizes, with the help of Mr. Singh, why she chose the four students she did. Each of them, according to Mr. Singh, has been on a journey of some kind, something which uniquely qualifies them to be part of this team. Mrs. Olinski, too, has been on a journey. Each of them also

found kindness in others and learned how to look for it in themselves.

Mrs. Olinski finally realizes that The Souls chose her just as much as she chose them.

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