I don’t often rewrite or edit my posts; writing is like talking to me. I tried on this one, however, because it sounds like it’s all about me and like I’m bragging. Hopefully, you know me better than that and realize that anything that sounds like bragging is really just to illustrate the kids I’m writing about, their hears and minds:
I substitute taught yesterday at the school with which I’m associated. As much as I enjoy that, I didn’t want to go in when I got called the night before. I’d made lunch plans with a dear friend and had an unusual number of errands to do (groceries, art store, Staples, car wash..) but I knew that if I said “no” one more time they might not call me for a while so lunch was postponed and I can do the errands in the next few days. Honestly, to substitute teach on any ongoing basis is like keeping your schedule clear for lifetime jury duty!
I’d forgotten how much I love that school and THOSE KIDS. I can’t believe how much I love those kids….9th grade to 12th grade; of every race and nationality you can imagine. White, Black, Hispanic, Asian, Arab…….everything.
I sub’d MATH, so you know I didn’t do much teaching this time, though I usually do. In math classes, I start the class with “Well, you’re all so lucky I’m not going to teach you math because you’d have to go to a remedial class immediately after!” (I stink at math and always have)…they always laugh and I’ve won them over. Most of “my kids” who came in the year I started there or the year after, have graduated……..this Senior class is still full of kids I know, thankfully. Suffice it to say that, three years ago, I knew every kid on campus (about 225 of them) and now I only really know the Seniors. I could go on and on about this but you’re not interested in what I’d like to write. Here is what I hope interests you:
These kids are SMART, they are polite, they’re typical kids who do dumb things, they’re very wealthy and they are dirt poor. My heart swells just to write this……..I show up and the kids who know me, even 17 yr old hipster Black guys, yell “Mrs. Z!” and run to hug me. Sometimes the kids clap when I walk in. Sometimes I hear “Oh, Jen told me you were here! It’s so good to see you!” Sounds egotistical to tell you all this but it’s not about ME. It’s about the KIDS and their hearts. They embrace a woman my age and they don’t have to…I don’t give them grades, etc…they ask if they can carry my stuff, they are kind, thoughtful……….these are American teens, kids public schools don’t even know about.
Today, my second class was almost all FRESHMEN. I’d never seen any of them. The class had about 17 kids in it and four came up before class to shake my hand and say “I’m Gaby, nice to meet you!” or “I’m Filip, what’s your name?” Yes, they did. I was stunned. 15 year olds introducing themselves?
I want to zero in on the Black and Hispanic kids, the true point of my post today…. ALL OF WHICH are fun, mostly bright (some brighter and some not as bright as the typical White kids, always polite and affectionate.) They get that I love them. They react in incredible ways to that…THAT might be even the truer point of why I wanted to write about this today. They react to sincere affection and caring. These are not drug selling monsters, these are not sexually active, troubled kids (though I’m sure some smoke some pot and some have probably had sex, I’m not kidding myself here)….but I wanted to write to say WE HAVE TO STOP PIGEON HOLING THESE KIDS…….They can be WONDERFUL! AMAZING! HAVE GREAT FUTURES! THEY’VE CLEARLY BEEN WELL RAISED! Honor them, love them, talk to them…….take every opportunity you can with teens and you will be amazed!
Then there was the White 14 year old boy who said “Mrs. Z, you like Larry David?” NO. “WHY NOT?” Then, as my history teacher buddy who knows me well walked through the room, this kid said “I’m a Bernie Sanders fan!” and I heard my teacher friend say, loud enough for me to hear, “Uh oh……………” 🙂 (I’ll laugh about that for a long time…..he knows what I might have said and, mostly, did not!) I said that I liked Larry David as much as I like Bill Maher…..’WHY?’ ‘I think they’re irreverent and negative and not uplifting..’
Anyway….I write this because I’m still on that kind of ‘high’ I get after being there for 6.5 hours …. Tired, happy and so touched. “Thank you!” “Excuse me!” Young boys (mostly the Hispanics are this sweet) moving to the side on the stairwell for me, “How are YOU, Mrs. Z?” on and on…….you’d be STUNNED at the difference between public schools and this private Christian school….you’d want every kid you know to go there.
Love the kids you meet….let them feel it……I wish you could all feel what I felt today…because this is a young America so few of us have a chance to experience.
(by the way, I’m no hero…they just feel my sincerity…….And I believe they’re raised well and so they are open to it…plus, our school expects politeness and goodness and the administration and teachers live it and show it. I believe all kids should have that opportunity. And every adult ought to feel what I felt yesterday and all the other days I’m there)
“you’re the best sub we’ve had!” And YOU, you wonderful people, are the best kids ON THE PLANET.
Yes, my dear Geeeez friends…really great kids do exist. Nurture them.