April 22, 2012

It's Been a While...


On the day of my last post, April 11, a student at my school passed away as a result of a traumatic and freak head injury. 

As you know, I taught seniors last semester and really fell in love with them. They are a dynamic group, but worked hard, learned how to write, and were good company for a semester. What I admired most about this particular group was the closeness amongst them. I never had any issues with bullying, teasing, or inappropriate comments in class because they all got along like a big family. It sure makes teaching easy when your students care for one another. 

So when the student was injured in an accident that involved two of his best friends (two of my former students), I knew this was going to be an immensely difficult situation for the school, their group of friends, but also those two boys.

And it has been. I have been praying a lot throughout the last 13 days. I have been praying for my former principal, who is the father of the student who passed. I have been praying for the community. I have been praying for my students and school. And above all, I have been praying for those friends. Those friends who saw a tragedy unfold before their young eyes.

School hasn't been the same. I teach the students' girlfriend during 8th mod, and as a class, had to prepare the remaining students in that class what to expect or what to do for when she would return to school. The students' favorite color was orange; there has been a lot of orange in the hallways. There are makeshift memorials donning the hallways. There are funny memories being told over and over again, because it's the only thing that makes sense and the only thing that makes it all feel better.

When I went to school to be a high school English teacher, I knew I wanted to do more than talk about books and grammar. I wanted to be the person that made school bearable for kids. I wanted to be the one that helped them see the best in themselves. What I didn't know is how much empathy and sadness I would feel when losing a student with so much life. I also didn't know how I would/will escape the guilt of wanting to do more for his friends to help them through the day-to-day. 

It's been hard. I have learned a lot about teaching and about teenagers through the last 13 days. There is no easy way to move on from this, other than continuing to try. 

I'll be honest, blogging hasn't been my priority because school has been front and center for me. I do feel, however, that this weekend rejuvenated my concentration and my spirit. I think I'm ready to have a high spirit and lift my kids up to where they need to be. 

But I know it's not over yet. We have 29 days of school left and then graduation, where there will be an empty seat with his name on it. There will be memories that will consume our minds of a life taken too soon when we least expect it. 

I guess, what I want you readers to know, is that teaching is more than just teaching. It's about helping young people learn what it's like to be a person. It's about helping young people recognize how to feel and what to think during times like this. It's about helping them realize that everything they're thinking and feeling is entirely normal and okay. 

I'll be back to blogging this week. I just needed a break for a while.

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