Reversing the Poles on a Magnet

Just apply heat

It’s my 4th and final year at this inner city school in Charlotte, NC. I have spent many days thinking about how far I’ve come. I said 4 years ago that I wanted to be a survivor. Even more, I wanted to thrive. It hasn’t really felt like thriving, but today, especially, it hit me how much things have changed. The changes have been subtle, yet the end result is quite drastic.
In the previous 3 years, I have had chairs thrown at me, I’ve been called a rainbow of inflammatory names, have had to hide tears from students, and, at times, have openly cried in front of students. I’ve had my phone stolen, I’ve had students throw my water bottle in the trash, steal pens and money out of my pockets, and throw paper at me and, at one point, gum.
But on Friday, I stood at the bus parking lot to monitor kids and in that time I had 2 first graders come and lean their heads on my stomach and hold onto me until their bus came. Another little one came to hug my leg. Then, as the middle schoolers came out for their buses, I had one of my current students lay her head on my back. And two of my previous students come to hug me goodbye for the weekend. More came and soon I had students of all ages clumping around me to talk, joke with me, hug me, or hang onto me for guidance.
If you’ve ever put a magnet in a dish with metal shavings, you might have an idea of what this was like.
bar-magnet-with-iron-filings

That’s me dressed in red.

2 years ago, I had a nightmare about being haunted by my most troubling class of students. In my sleep, they disrupted my classroom like poltergeists, clanging metal and calling out over my instruction.
Now my biggest issue is being haunted by my last batch of students who keep coming into my room on their bathroom breaks to say “hi.” They interrupt my class to ask me corny jokes with pun-tastic answers. They come by to try to sneak attack me with a hug and ask if they can come back to 6th grade and be a part of my class again. Sometimes they just slip into my room and try to blend in with my current class.
My first class at this school made bets on how fast they could make me quit. Now I have students who want me to tell them which class I like more and if I’ll stay forever.
Unfortunately, I can’t stay forever. Next year, the district will split the school into two and I will be forced to go elsewhere (I don’t know where, yet). But God, in his infinite kindness, has decided to make this last year a sweet blessing to me, with kids who leave sweet notes and gifts on my desk instead of taking things from my desk.
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NaPoWriMo

It’s National Poetry Writing Month! And you know what that means!

 

It means that school is almost out

But the kids are getting antsy.

As each day gets warmer outside

I have to try harder not to get angry.

 

It’s not that they’re so terrible

But they squirm and want to play.

No one wants to sit still for hours

When outside it’s such a nice day.

 

Sometimes I lose my temper

Though I try to control it a while.

But even when they drive me crazy

There’s always a few that make me smile.

Kiera 001
Alayah 001

The Man with the Teardrop Tattoos

He had three teardrops outlined on his cheeks and five stars spread across his face like a constellation. He towered over me in a way that would be intimidating if I had met him anywhere else. But this was a classroom and he was a caring parent of one of my students who had come on his own initiative to see how his son was doing in my class. He was fresh out of prison and anxious to be a part of his kid’s life.

I called him on multiple occasions when his son was acting up in class. It’s not that his son is a “bad kid.” He’s just very talkative. And hyper. And goofy. And likes to play fight in class; and rap in class; and do anything except his work, really. So his dad came in twice to check on him and have a conversation about his behavior. As they say in school, “His dad don’t play.”

“I know he’s is smart,” He said one day in the cafeteria. “I was the same way. I had a full scholarship to college too–on academics, not sports. But my temper got me in trouble… I want my son to do better. I don’t want him to end up like I did.”

That stuck with me. In a school like this, there are so many parents who just don’t care and others who are just worn out. But this man was adamant about his son’s education. And poured out his pent-up hope on his future.

Shortly after that encounter, I was given the unfortunate news that he had died. I had a gut feeling that it was a violent death. The story ended up on the local news. He had been jumped by gang members and shot to death in a convenience store.

His son was out of school for 2 weeks. When he came back, he drew a teardrop on his cheek with a sharpie.

The Hidden Life of Love (A poem for Kierkegaard)

The valentine card I made for you
Was buried under twenty-two.
Some were bigger than my own;
I saw one with little rhinestones.
My valentine was much more plain.
I did not buy it and I forgot my name.
I drew it out on plain white paper,
And wrote your name in big block letters.
I wanted you to feel special,
And sharing the card made my heart revel.
But after you left the class with your pile,
I found my card on the floor tile.
My red and pink heart looked very sad
With the color bleeding out of the lines I had.
The corners were crumpled, and there was a foot mark
stamped on top of of my loving artwork.
I picked it up and brushed it clean,
And put it back where it would be seen.
On top of your desk, my heart now lays,
So you’ll see it again in three days.

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