Thursday, September 6, 2007

Commitment

First day went great - though I was so exhausted off my feet I actually fell asleep on the couch for a few minutes during Olbermann!

It was great fun seeing former and new students. This is an especially poignant year because it marks my first graduating class - I've been here 4 years, and started with these kids when they were freshman. I had hundreds of them as sophomores, and now they are seniors, some of them in my government classes. It's so great to see how far they've come.

But the most incredible part of my first day yesterday was at 7:30 when I walked through the doors into my building, and walking out at that moment was "Joe" - a student I have known for several years. He is a senior this year, and he is one of my Peer Mediators and he volunteers to help with our supply closet where we handout supplies to kids who need them - including food, clothing and school supplies. He is one of the most committed students I've known - shows up every day, participates willingly and animatedly in discussion and work, and maintains mature, responsible relationships with teachers and friends. I was not surprised to see Joe was the first kid I saw on the first day, so early in the morning. Joe is a great kid and an amazing student. And...

Joe is homeless.

He has no parental presence in his life and he lives from friends' couch to park bench to sleeping where he can sometimes. He has deftly avoided being put "into the system" in various ways, and he has no adult familial support in any way. But he comes to school every day and in June he will graduate from high school. His teachers and counselors help in private and sometimes anonymous ways. But in the end, he's done it all on his own.

NCLB, the government, and even social services are happy to leave Joe behind, but Joe won't leave himself behind.

That's why I teach high school.

4 comments:

Midlife Teacher-in-Training said...

Thank you for your blog. I'm almost 50 and taking classes to get into teaching, and I worry that I'm too much of a rebel to fit into the system. Reading your blog makes me think that if someone like you can put up with the b.s. for the sake of the kids who are trapped in a crappy system, then I can do it too. Please keep writing!
Sandy

Mz.H said...

Nice to hear from you, Sandy! My best wishes for a midlife transition into teaching. If you love the kids you're going to be spending all day with, you'll have no worries! Thanks for stopping by!

Tense Teacher said...

Amazing. Don't you wish you could shout from the rooftops to tell all the lazy, pampered kids about Joe?

ms. whatsit said...

I'm sure that Joe's teachers were instrumental in providing him moral support. What a heart-warming story!