Thursday, March 17, 2011

Tell Me Your Story About... Education

Don't forget to share your education story and link up.

My first few years of teaching were spent at Fort Hood, Texas where I taught at the High School with THE WORST reputation in town.  It was known for having bad kids who made the news regularly because of gang activities.  The student body did have a large gang population.  It also had 90% military children most of which had at least 1 parent who was deployed in any given year.  There were kids who had both parents deployed who lived with "aunt" so and so and there were kids who just had a place to stay and it might not even be the same each night.

These kids had to be some of the most loyal people I have ever met.  They had huge hearts to match their larger than life personalities and attitudes.  Once you proved that you were going to be fair and respect them you didn't have any problems.  Yeah, I had heard nightmare stories about teachers who were scared of the kids but never once did I experience that.  I was in control, for the most part, of my classroom from bell to bell and we got stuff done (my students in my TAKS prep class had a 75% Exit Level passing rate).  I have a 100 stories to tell you about the kids here.  They were hilarious and there was never a dull moment.

Two students that touched my heart were both actively involved in gangs but they knew the importance of getting an education.  The first student wasn't the brightest or best student but I am never going to forget him.  I had just started teaching and had asked them to fill out a form about themselves.  One of the questions is "what would you like me to call you?"  He put down this crazy sounding name that was not even a nickname for his real name, it was also what he wrote at the top of all of his papers, so I wrote him a note one day and asked him what his nickname meant.  I wish I had kept the note because he took time to tell me that his nickname was his "gang" name but not to get him wrong.  He then spent a whole page explaining to me that even though he is in a gang he is good to his momma and to his teachers and that he is a good kid.  He also explained to me that he knew that getting his diploma and understanding math was super important because he wanted to be a real estate agent someday and that he couldn't be successful without school and math.  He struggled in class and was shy and never asked questions but he was in tutoring with me almost every week so he wouldn't fail and I will tell you he was good to his teacher and a good kid.

The second kid has an even sadder story.  When a student was withdrawn from school our registrar would send out a list telling us who had withdrawn.  One day out of the blue this student showed up on the withdrawl list.  He hadn't been in school too long (long story short he had run away not too long before this because of trouble at home) when he was suddenly withdrawn.  I was a little shocked to say the least.  He was a hard worker in my class which really was hard to come by in a TAKS prep class.  Then in the morning during second period he comes walking through my door.  School policy stated that if a student wasn't on your roster you were to send them down to the counselor so I pulled him aside and told him that he had been on the withdrawl list the night before and that he needed to go to the counselor and straighten things out.  He shook his head at me like "I'm not withdrawn I am right here" and grabbed his stuff and headed to the counselor.  He didn't come back.

A few weeks later (maybe less) I see him in the hall outside the registrar's office and ask him what happened and why wasn't he in my class anymore.  He just shook his head again and said, "Miss, I am trying."  It turned out that he hadn't been living at home since he had ran away.  His father had written him off and when needing to clear Fort Hood had to have his dependent withdrawn from the school district.  Despite having no clue where his child was living or whether he was attending school regularly (which he was) he withdrew his kid so he could clear and PCS.  The student after being withdrawn by his father came to school every day with his backpack ready to go to class but unable to because he wasn't enrolled.  One day the school's administration was able to use a Homeless Student law to re-enroll him and he was able to finally resume school.  One of the school secretaries also offered him a stable place to live so that he could do what he had been trying to do for weeks... go to school.  Eventually he transferred to the Alternative High School so he could graduate since he was over 18 years old.

This is why I teach because there are students out there who want to learn.  Despite circumstances or abilities they want to be good kids who learn because it will help them later in life.


Erin said...

That second story is just tragic. I can't imagine a parent PCSing and just leaving their husband behind. :(

Jessica said...

Wow, that second story made me cry! I can't believe that someone would do that to their own child.

Teachers definitely don't get the recognition that they deserve. Thank you for what you do!!

Christina said...

I just came across your blog and had to comment on this post. I think there are many teachers out there who teach in the military system, who, like you, rock. I don't know what the kids would do without them. I volunteer here at Ft. lewis in the school and absolutely think the teachers do a fantastic job. I do see many sad stories, but like you said, you really need to find out what is going on with each kid and not just write them off. Always know that teachers like you do make a huge difference. I truly believe this, and I have seen it over and over.