Friday, December 19, 2008

Sobered, thankful, etc.

Yesterday my "troubled" student got in a fight at recess and got suspended. At the end of the day. Right before Christmas break.

He missed our party today.

After school, I tagged along with our principal to drop off some gifts in the neighborhood our poorest kids come from.

And that's why I'm sobered, because my students (at least 4 of them) come from homes with drug trafficking, single parents, prostitution in the neighborhood. I walked up to one of the apartments and could smell the smoke...the not cigarette smoke. My kids are surviving, fending for themselves, doing the best they can. And I was heartbroken.

But my principal reminded me not to feel pity. I can be compassionate and understanding of where they come from, but if I feel sorry for them, I'll give them excuses. And what I really want is for them to meet my high expectations, not to settle, and to get out of their surroundings. I tell my "troubled" student to "leave it at the door". His life is pretty terrible, but he can't bring it with him everyday. He won't go anywhere with it. I just pray that I can be a teacher that inspires them to know they are better than that.

I have no idea what's best for them. But what I have is tools for them to get to the next grade (hopefully) and sometimes I think it's all I've got left. I need to remember that I have Christ's love in my heart, and that pushes me to push them to be successful.

Today, I was so thankful to my kids for the sweet presents they gave. My poorest kids brought in a handpicked present. So sweet.

Joel and I have a dining room table COVERED with chocolates and breads and candy if anyone wants a snack, let me know!

We also got some nice gift cards (which we've split) so we can buy some new clothes and go out to eat. We're so thankful.

It was the handwritten notes from kids ("Mary Cristmas Mrs. Orr!") that were really touching. And the big hugs as they left. This week reminded me why I wanted to be a teacher.


CaliforniaTeacherGuy said...

Thankfully, Christmas usually brings out the best in people--our students included.

Kelsi said...

I loved reading this post. It made me thankful for you, not only as a friend but as a professional. If I have learned anything in grad school about kids coming from these terrible environments it is that it takes one person to say something like, "you know you have more going for you than you think" to give the confidence to believe they can overcome. It is amazing actually.

I hope you two have a wonderful Christmas and I hope to see you so very soon!!

Jennifer said...

Dominique, you are such a gift to these kids and my heart bleeds for them with the situation some of them have to face. Your beautiful spirit and loving ways will mean a lot the them this year. This is truly the work of Christ that you are doing. Working with, and encouraging, these kids who come from these environments. Thank you for sharing all of the this and Merry Christmas to you & Joel.