Saturday, April 28, 2007

Photo Friday: Changing the World

My Kids, 2001

These are some of my students from my very first sixth grade class. The school is actually in an increasingly upscale neighborhood, but the kids came from the nearby housing projects, or took the bus from farther away. Ultimately I couldn't stand the school itself; the administration was abusive to the kids and the faculty alike, it was just an unbearable mess. But I loved the kids. They weren't easy, certainly, but they were malleable and they tried and some were truly thirsty for learning.

Teaching is my way of changing the world. It saddens me that the neediest kids in my city end up in the most egregiously run schools, places where I, as a young new teacher, couldn't survive any more than the kids could. I couldn't be of any help to them when I myself was so isolated, something my graduate school professors warned me about before I went marching into the ghetto, but I was stubborn and had to learn it for myself.

Now I teach in a school that is committed to progressive education as well as diversity; some of my students are as needy as the ones in this picture, but by no means all of them. It's admittedly easier to address kids' needs when only a few of them are falling apart, rather than every single one. And of course working with people who have the same goals makes the entire difference.

Maggie & Cousin Mowe

And, lest you thought we could pass up an opportunity for photos of the dachshund.... I don't think we've told Maggie's story on the blog. She is a rescue dog (as is her cousin Mowe, my sister's dog, shown here as a puppy). I found out through dachshund rescue that there were some dachshunds at the pound. I headed over there, and they would only show me one at a time, so I asked to see the female. (I think there were two, and the other was her brother, but I really don't know.) They brought little Maggie out to me...she was Big Maggie, though, she weighed the most she ever has, and looked like a football. She curled up in my lab, and whined. It was so sweet, and so sad. Of course I said I wanted her! So I came back the next day, after she'd had her girl parts taken out, and took her home on the 6 train while she slept off the anesthesia.

Saving the world, one dachshund at a time.


Sandra said...

And I'm so happy Maggie came to live with you! Do you think she's going to be excited about being a big sister?

calliope said...

great post!
Teachers are the heroes of the world!

Melody said...

Thanks for posting about your experience teaching in the inner city. I come from a private school background. Vanessa comes from a public school one-- in Indianapolis' inner city. Her experiences in public school sound hellish (b/c of being an out lesbian among her classmates); yet she still advocates sending our kids through IPS because she did have excellent teachers who really cared about seeing their students succeed-- not just in the classroom but in life, too. These are teachers she continues to admire. Sounds like you're one of those.