Garinger High – 2016-03-17

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been cursed at by my students. I’ve lost count of the number of my students who have been arrested. I’ve lost count of how much have been stolen or destroyed. My two years in one of the hardest schools to teach in Charlotte has disillusioned my understanding of morality, and I’ve very often wondered how things turned out this way.

I’ve also lost count of the number of kids who have been abandoned, disowned, and/or abused by their parent(s), legal guardians, or other adults. And as I finish off my second year, I’m becoming more and more convinced that the traumatic circumstances that my students have been placed under by no fault of their own are directly responsible for most if not almost all of their low social and academic performances.

What’s saddening to me is that I have so many capable students, many of whom I would be willing to place in any competition against the best private school students in the country. But their potential has been so truncated by trauma that I cannot help but think that the solution for educational equality (and correlated upward mobility) lies much closer to the home than the school, closer to the soul than the mind. I often think of myself as a pharmacist treating symptoms with pain medications because surgery of souls for the students and surrounding adults is required but unavailable. Such are my ruminations when I ponder the reasons behind their curses, now accustomed to the sharp attacks to which I’ve become almost fully immune to. But the sadness I feel of what could have been… It only gets harder with understanding.

No kid grows up dreaming of underperforming. I see the look on their eyes in football, soccer, and basketball games. Though often overmatched, they are happy to fulfill their desire to just compete. They just want that chance to prove themselves, sometimes even more than the victory itself. I see how excited they get when they have finally learned things that have eluded them for so long. And when I tell them that they will be better men than I am.

They have had hopes and dreams, too. Don’t you dare think less of what they aspire to do more so than they do… as I have. That was my biggest flaw in my first year, rationalizing the reasons as I stood between traumatized kids and their uncontrollable outbursts of pain and suffering. Don’t you get it? They ARE trying as hard as they can. But only left to this world by themselves. And sometimes, perhaps even rarely, you do end up being that figure they didn’t know they wanted or needed for 90 short minutes of each day. The view from the mountaintop is that much more beautiful when shared.

My Lord and my God, look kindly upon our souls.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been cursed at by my students. I’ve lost count of the number of my students who have been arrested. I’ve lost count of how much have been stolen or destroyed. My two years in one of the hardest schools to teach in Charlotte has disillusioned my understanding of morality, and I’ve very often wondered how things turned out this way.

I’ve also lost count of the number of kids who have been abandoned, disowned, and/or abused by their parent(s), legal guardians, or other adults. And as I finish off my second year, I’m becoming more and more convinced that the traumatic circumstances that my students have been placed under by no fault of their own are directly responsible for most if not almost all of their low social and academic performances.

What’s saddening to me is that I have so many capable students, many of whom I would be willing to place in any competition against the best private school students in the country. But their potential has been so truncated by trauma that I cannot help but think that the solution for educational equality (and correlated upward mobility) lies much closer to the home than the school, closer to the soul than the mind. I often think of myself as a pharmacist treating symptoms with pain medications because surgery of souls for the students and surrounding adults is required but unavailable. Such are my ruminations when I ponder the reasons behind their curses, now accustomed to the sharp attacks to which I’ve become almost fully immune to. But the sadness I feel of what could have been… It only gets harder with understanding.

No kid grows up dreaming of underperforming. I see the look on their eyes in football, soccer, and basketball games. Though often overmatched, they are happy to fulfill their desire to just compete. They just want that chance to prove themselves, sometimes even more than the victory itself. I see how excited they get when they have finally learned things that have eluded them for so long. And when I tell them that they will be better men than I am.

They have had hopes and dreams, too. Don’t you dare think less of what they aspire to do more so than they do… as I have. That was my biggest flaw in my first year, rationalizing the reasons as I stood between traumatized kids and their uncontrollable outbursts of pain and suffering. Don’t you get it? They ARE trying as hard as they can. But only left to this world by themselves. And sometimes, perhaps even rarely, you do end up being that figure they didn’t know they wanted or needed for 90 short minutes of each day. The view from the mountaintop is that much more beautiful when shared.

My Lord and my God, look kindly upon our souls.

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