The walls of my classroom were bare. The artwork was gone. The paragraphs about cheetahs were gone. The multiplication stories were also gone. My students and I sat down in the empty classroom to eat donuts. We drank cold milk. We laughed. We cheered. It was the last day of school.
Here are some of the memories they left with me:
John: His eyes have seen cocaine. He has seen Las Vegas, but not Disneyland. He has seen rifles. Chocolate ice cream is not part of his life.
Sebastian: On the first day of school, he said his father was black and his mother Mexican. His father was in prison for beating up his mother. “I’m not really that good,” he said.
Ruben: One day he came up to me and asked me if he could sing a song for me. He sang Sweet Child O’ Mine by Guns and Roses. He became rock and roll buddy.
Lisa: Her Math skills were below grade level, but she made her crayons sing on paper.
Jo: She had a difficult time making friends. One morning she went to recess with a folded photograph of a woman. When I asked her who the woman was, she said it was her mother. She missed her. The mother has been in and out prison for quite some time.
Cindy: The war in Iraq. The foreclosure crisis. But a big pink bow on her hair always made the world a little better.
Gary: He has a serious speech problems. His speech is unintelligible. The first weeks of school he often hid under his desk out of frustration. I had to learn how to listen to the voice in his heart.
Mary: "Ms. A., Jenny told me the color of my skin is ugly." (Mary is African American).
Karen: She didn’t want to be in my classroom at the beginning of the year. She cried continuously. She wanted to be in the cool teacher’s second grade class ( I think I have a reputation of being strict and making students work hard. I just don't settle for less than their potential). On the last day of school she gave me this card:
Post edit: Of course, the names of the children have been changed. I gotta protect the innocent and my job. :)
Guiño a Plympton. [Flickr]
8 hours ago