Friday, September 26, 2003
Tonight I had another purely Southern experience.
I went out tonight with two other new teachers at my school. I have been trying to go out with them for awhile, but things finally worked out. Jessica brought her husband Christian and Jimmy Craig brought his girlfriend Gwendy.
We went to this Mexican restaurant because when we had been there earlier, we met a blue-grass band who told us they were going to do a show. And the lead singer was the cutest boy I have ever seen in my life. So we had some nachos and then watched the show.
The band was awesome and so much fun. But I have seen blue-grass before. What I have never experienced before this, however, was a room packed with white men hootin' and hollerin' and spanking themselves while spinning in circles...well, there are touches of this at the Fulsom Street Fair in San Francisco, but believe me, this was different. They were out of control, falling down, so drunk I was sure that there would be public vomiting.
The band played forever and I love Scott, the lead singer. I realized that I had a referral from school in my purse, so I filled one out for him and dropped it in his "email" box. I requested a conference on the referral. Clever, no? ¶ 10:26 PM
There are these two kids in my class. I was warned about both of them before I set foot in my room. I was told that they were horrible and "lifers" in middle school. Knowing this, I immediately sought their love. I thought I would make them my ally instead of letting them hate me and ruin my room.
I managed to be successful at this, all of this time. I called their parents constantly, to let them know what a good job their kid did in my room. Their parents cried, this being the first positive thing they have heard about their monsters since 1st grade. It was working.
Today, one of these kids was pulled out because he is wanted for a burglary in another town. The other got herself suspended for calling her teacher (not me) a "stupid bitch". This feels awful to me. I am so sad, because the side of these kids that I see is really nice. They are both generally good kids. They are especially charming- that is why they can control a class they way they do. They are hilarious and deep down want so badly to be "good". But they are so intent on self-destruction.
I am finally feeling this hit home, in a personal way. I am getting a taste of what it is like to actually know the statistics that we read about. This boy, the burgular, is going off to Juvenile Hall soon. Very likely, that will be the first of many institutions that will house him. Many people will be afraid of him when he is walking around as an adult. But, I swear , he is a really nice kid. I like him so much. He is funny, which means he is pretty smart. I don't know what happened.
But I do know that this is exactly what Teach for America wants us to see, so that we can go out and do something about it. I am learning something that I thought I already knew, about poverty and color. But I guess I didn't really know it.
¶ 3:31 PM