Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Back In The Saddle Again

I've purposefully been away from this blog since March. I'm back for better or worse. During this break I have kept track of events affecting some of my students; graduations, birth of a baby or two, shootings, robberies, house fires, visits by former students, and so on.

Let's begin with graduations. Two of my students, a brother and a sister, graduated in May. The sister with a real diploma and the brother with a SPED diploma. To their credit it was a tight race until the end or the beginning, depending on your view of education and life. The sister is convinced she is on her way to law school. Her brother is convinced he is on his way to prison. Their grades are quite equal which is not good news for the sister, Tamala. Brother Jose cared little about grades and more about social activities and skipping during his four year stay in high school. Tamala ran hot and cold with her studies during the same four year period. If a club trip to New York was in the works then her grades improved. Otherwise, boys and love were her priorities.

Jose began a period of intense worry around the first of May. He fretted daily about graduation. Each morning he came to me with the same question, "You heard anything about my graduation?"

Each time my reply was, "You're graduating on the 25th with the other seniors."

He failed to grasp the idea of a SPED diploma. You showed up, you're graduating, in accordance with your I.E.P. goals. I suspected, like others, his concern was more about being slapped by life after high school, e.g., job, living arrangements, responsibility for himself, adulthood, etc.

Tamala continued to be convinced she was on her way to law school. Somehow she is skipping over the first four years of college and the soon to be birth of her baby. Talk about being slapped by life.

I read in the local paper about an apartment fire in a complex where Emo, my goth student lives, in the middle of June. The fire began in a bush outside of his bedroom window. It engulfed the Section 8 apartment that he, his mother and her boyfriend occupied. Fortunately, the firewall stopped it from spreading to the other apartments. The cause of the fire has yet to be released, but I have my suspicions.

Roosevelt, a former student from three years ago, dropped by my house several times this summer. Sometimes with the mother of his daughter and the daughter, mostly by himself. Each time he bragged about his current job and how good a job it was. It didn't occur to him that he was sitting in my house at 10:00 A.M. which should be prime employment time. I patiently wait for his maturity to catch-up with him being a father. I'm still waiting. So is he.

I've tracked several news reports of home invasions, drug deals gone bad, drive by shootings, and car pursuits by the local police. Many involving the immediate families of my students. I vaguely question myself how these activities fall into No Child Left Behind and the government school system.

School begins in a week and many of my student will again search for a place they can find some moderate safety, if not a glimpse of a better future then their present environment. My portable classroom will again become a haven for a mere 180 days.

That leaves only 185 days in the year for them to find a way to survive life.