On January 1st, I looked back at my blog and realized it had been months since I had written. With a new job, a boss on maternity leave, adjusting to a new city and new priorities of fitness and a work-life balance, time had flown! So I made a resolution: to write at least every two weeks. And now, it is mid-March… so we see how that resolution went the way most do–right out the window! Although I must admit, I am excited other people also fail at their resolutions since the gym is finally not packed with all the “this is my year to get fit” folks.
Things have been much more calm this week and I have spent some time reflecting on the last few months. Below are a few quick snap shots- highlights and lowlights- to get you caught up on things. (*name or initials of students have been changed)
HB in first period, end of February- “Ms. K, can you come here, it’s important.” When I kneeled down next to her desk, she got teary and choked out “I got accepted to Central Michigan University- my dream school- and I just saw the email. I feel like crying.” To which I said, “Girl, cry all you want.” *insert me also getting teary here*
Earlier this week, 5:35pm, somewhere on Clark St– This week I brought three students from school to a dinner for a college they all love and have been accepted to. For each of them, it is in their top 2-3 choices. But at 5:35pm, I was still flipping U-turns in downtown traffic trying to figure out where this mysterious parking lot was. All the kids and I could do was laugh and give demerits to all the bad drivers we encountered along the way… they also may have given me a few for my “poor following of directions,” but I certainly deserved it. Sometimes I get so caught up in my day-to-day work that I forget moments like these are what I love most about teaching and young people.
Mid-January, after school– One of my favorite young men came in to see me after school and show me his first college acceptance letter. I live for these moments and I am lucky enough to be the one who often hands them their coveted “Gold Polo” that they get to wear once they are accepted instead of the standard gray that all Juniors and Seniors wear. After giving this senior his polo and telling him how proud of him I was, he left. And I sat at my desk and cried. Although my students here have difficult home lives, there is so much support (an entire other post!) that enables them to be socially and emotionally cared for at my school. As a result, I don’t necessarily have as intense of a counseling role in terms of life events as I had in Charlotte. This student, had found himself in big trouble with the law just before senior year began. The depth of the excitement on his face was paralleled by the depth of the sadness I felt knowing that there is a chance he would not be able to take advantage of this amazing opportunity. And it couldn’t happen to a better, more amazing, respectful young man, who felt a level of desperation for himself and his family that I cannot possibly understand. I would say that’s the hardest part of all, but the reality is, it’s all the hardest part.
Early March, downstairs staircase– On this fine morning, a student came running in before homeroom showing me their letter and asking for their polo. Seven minutes after telling TD I could not wait to see him rockin’ that gold polo, I walked downstairs to get my morning snack and passed TD on the stairs, already in his polo. It made me teary (are we sensing a common theme here?) that he must have run out of my room and found the nearest bathroom to put on that shirt that he had been working towards for 4 years immediately. I loved it and promptly told him so.
As background of why this meant so much to me: This young man has an individualized education plan, self-contained Special Education classes for three years of high school and has academic challenges due to learning disabilities. Before coming to our school, (and perhaps if he had gone to another high school) he may never have been told that college was even an option for him. Let alone been told repeatedly by every adult in the building. Here, him submitting college applications had been a given from Day 1 freshmen year. A non-negotiable with the underlying message that we know he has what it takes and can find programs that will support him. This consistent, no-matter-what belief that our school has our kids means the world to them and allows us to be successful as teachers. It makes my school an amazing place to work, and I hope, to be a student.
For now, I will leave it there. As always, it’s Funk Friday and time to spark up the Whitney and teach some kids about budgeting money in college.
It is well with my soul.