07 6 / 2012
I spent the day clearing out my husband’s room and talking with his kids on
their last day of school. A choir teacher had her hours cut in half this
week, so kids were staging protests by performing songs together for the
administration office, and then for all the teachers. It was so hard to
listen and watch without crying.
The kids came in and out of the classroom all day, saying goodbye. But some
were just asking for advice - how can they save their other teacher’s job.
And then some immediately after, with embarrassment, saying to each other
that they were sorry for not thinking of songs to sing to save my husband’s
There is a folder of advice kids wrote for him, and a steady flow of
letters from kids he taught years ago. I sat reading for an hour or so
every changed life, every inspired kid’s dreams and their advice - keep
teaching, take a little time off, add them on facebook to stay in touch,
stay funny and caring and please come back to the school.
And then there were some letters from parents, sharing their anger and
And then the boys would stop by, in tears, for a last hug.
Schools are communities. Made up of all these relationships and
difficulties and learning. The teacher’s job, especially for these
freshmen, is to make a place in the school for those kids to succeed for
the next four years. When my husband started, this school had the highest
retention and graduation rate in the state. Seven years later, it feels
like a different place.