Monday, July 07, 2008


And so I move forward...but not without looking back, and obsessively keeping in touch with my kids, as much for me as for them.
Today I met my new kids and spent the day at my new job, meeting teachers and colleagues. At my new job I'll be a "learning specialist" and "special education coordinator". Basically I'll work with kids in small groups for part of the day, both in and out of the classroom. I'll also teach reading for 1 block of the day, and have parts of my day blocked off for administrative special ed duties, because I'll do the IEPs for the whole school. I have an office, not a classroom. I have a desk, and a phone, and tons and tons of materials I could only dream about at my old school. I wanted to stay afterwards and play :)
I met my kids, or some of them, and chatted with them over lunch. One told me about a movie he saw over the weekend, then went right into, "and on Saturday my dad died and my cousin tried to stab my aunt, but he didn't, and now he's in jail." He was so nonchalant, but talked for half an hour about his dad, the funeral, and how the rest of his life would be much harder because now he just had his mom. I wanted to bawl. This little 7 year old just told the story matter of factly with his bookbag on his shoulders and a chocolate milk mustache on his lips. My new kids need help, too, I thought. But still....
The excitement for the coming year is overshadowed by the doubt that maybe I didn't make the right decision. That I abandoned my kids and colleagues at my old school. That it wasn't time to leave. But maybe it would never have been the right time to leave. Then again, maybe I should have stayed one more year. To see Adony, Joshua, Chris, Adrielis, Brianna, and Jose graduate. I've never had a harder goodbye than the one on the last day of school. We walked around the school yard crying. Joshua had to be escorted to his bus because he wouldn't stop holding on to me, and I didn't have the emotional strength to pry him off. Adony tried holding the classroom door shut so we couldn't leave.....and at the end of the day, as the rest of the building emptied, my kids surrounded me in my room with a group hug.
So even as the excitement grows, I wonder if I'll ever find what I found with those 13 kids those first few weeks of September, 2006. Somehow, I don't think it's possible.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Reflection from the Mouths of Those Who Made the Experience

Chris's reader's notebook went from being covered with gang graffiti to the following poem (not originally written by him...):
I can overcome my fears
I can buy for the hungry
I can help stop pollution
I can give to the poor
I can be what I want
I can use my head
I can give advice
I can receive
I can behave
I can listen
I can think
I can teach
I can know
I can give
I can feel
I can see
I can

I asked him if I could have it. He asked why.
"To remember one of the smartest 11 year olds I've ever met," I said.