I did the math once and I've had over a thousand kids walk through my door. I hate math.
I carry their stories with me. And like party tricks, I toss them out to people that scoff at me when I say I teach, or to the people that scoff at me when I tell where I teach.
You wanna know what they don't seem to remember? They are still talking about kids.
They're just words.
And we preach and we preach and we preach that you don't fling words at people. You don't shove pebbly, jagged pointers in people's faces and say, "YES. This word. This one right here. This one defines you." Because they don't.
They don't define you.
There was the kid that was an alcoholic, whose mother died, whose brother died, whose dad hit him, and who scored the highest in his class on his assessments in science and math. The kid that could explain things to me backwards and forward and the kid that didn't need a damn book because he'd already read the pages of Homer. Lived the pages of the struggle. Because what kind of real life sixteen-year-old has to fight those kind of beasts? I still see him sometimes. His eyes are heavy. His life is heavy. He's carrying too much.
There was the kid struggling with authority and struggling with home life and struggling with drug life and struggling with learning a new language. And I think her mission was to break the glass out of my door when she slammed it every day and I thought a couple of times - she just might succeed. When she pushed her pencil into her paper her aggression came through her lead - deep, hard, angry. Her letters were big, edgy. A sign that read here I am and go ahead - come at me. I was terrified she was going to stop coming to school. Terrified that she'd be One of the Lost. She emails me occasionally ... she's making it. Every day is a fight for her and she carries her before with her in her back pocket like a champion carries a trophy. A reminder. A fight she's won. She can do hard things.
Another girl. Her daddy died and she had brothers and sisters and she had a momma that didn't speak or read English. She was a sophomore. She became the breadwinner of the family. As a sophomore.
A boy - illegal - one that was proud his parents could afford to pay for his work visa. Now, he can help out with rent. Utilities. Warm coats for his little brothers. And he didn't coast. No, no. This kid took the hardest classes he could. "Because," he said to me. "Creighton." And I breathed out a prayer for him. A chant, really. Please let him get in, please let him get in, please ... And he did.
Another boy - sleeping through class every day because he worked the night shift. And when I say the night shift? I don't mean the 4-9 shift that we worked when we were young. No. I mean all night long. He would get home at four a.m. and sleep and then come to school at 7:30. Because breakfast. And how does a teacher - a human being - how do you force him to stay awake?
The American Dream.
Underneath the labels. Underneath the slippery scowls of the outsiders looking in. Underneath the gritted teeth of the people that aren't in our hallways every single day with us.
Underneath the fingernails of the kids in my classroom every day.
On the edges of the shovels we're holding.
In the trenches we're digging.
. About Moi .
I love, love, love flannel sheets and I am really passionate about lists on post it notes and most of the time I'm sad that no one else is as excited as I am about Diet Mountain Dew. I also adore run-on sentences.
He saw her before he saw
anything else in the room.
- F. Scott Fitzgerald
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