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...I am a human being first.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Roadblocks and Signs

I apologize for the morose sound of this entry. I am writing this more for me, acknowledging a feeling I have been trying to deny.

Ask anyone what I think about my job and everyone I know will tell you the same thing: KP loves her job.

A few of my closest friends, however, know that I have been having a struggle lately in that area. I still love my job. I don't dread going to work and the faces of my amazing kids still uplift, inspire and buoy me most days.

That is why it is so difficult for me to understand my recent feelings. I have been feeling buried and defeated and down about the difference I make in the world. I am not fishing for compliments here, and of course I can spot isolated kids/instances where my words or love or attention have positively affected someone. My struggle lately has been with the words "So what?"

I help a kid or two find their potential. So what?
I provide a hug for a kid who needs one. So what?
I teach a difficult concept in an easier way. So what?

In the GRAND scheme of things, do those things make a worldly difference?

An event that happened a few weeks ago definitely precipitated these feelings. Without going into much detail, the event made me realize that, in many cases, no matter what my kids achieve in my classroom, the deck is stacked against them everywhere else. It doesn't matter that they have made progress or can conjugate a verb or are loving individuals in my room, if they are forced (by circumstance, ignorance, home training or choice) to be different people the other 1393 minutes of every day.

Why work SO hard to create an environment of love and support and caring in my room when they dont (or cant?) carry that over into "real life?"

I might just be burned out because Spring Break is so late this year. I may simply need a break. A respite. But, the feelings scare me. If there is one thing I have always held onto, it is my belief (however rose-colored) that I am changing the world, one student at a time. The event a few weeks ago made me realize that maybe one student at a time isnt tangible enough anymore for me.

There is so much evil and hatred and malice in the world. Even my well-meaning students dont have very good odds of success, when their families, environments and support systems are encouraging the wrong path. And there are SO many.

I do not know where this will leave me. As I said, the feelings scare me.

Today, however, I am choosing to focus on a single positive. I keep a notebook on my desk of EVERY SINGLE letter a student has ever written me. Today, I dropped it by mistake and opened right to one in particular that FELT like a sign to me. It was a note written to me by Jason Kroetz, one of my favorite former students who unfortunately passed away a year ago. In it, he wrote these words:

"In conclusion, I want to let you know that if ever in your life you regret the path you have chosen, or fel that you havent made a difference in any way, you have. You have created a huge impact on me, and I am only one kid. There are dozens of others like me."

Ironically, he is an example of a good kid with a smart brain and amazing heart, who didn't carry my lessons out into the real world, made a terrible choice anyway and died as the result of that choice.

Thanks, J, for the sign. I'm trying.

TODAY I'M THANKFUL FOR:   getting to know kids who have touched my life like Jason.