Some of you may recognize him from the newspaper article. He and I made the front page of the San Diego Union Tribune, haha. This is Mr. F. Mr. F has a special place in my classroom - front row, ri…
"We know you care. Please care enough to give."
As I look off into the distance
Watching the sun roll on by
Beautiful colors all around me, oh
Painted all over the sky
The same hands that created all of this
They created you and I
What a beautiful God
What a beautiful God
And what am I, that I might be called Your child
What am I, what am I
That You might know my name
What am I, what am I
That You might die, that I might live
What am I, what am I
I met Mr. V on my first day of training last summer. He was one of the few students I had met during the summer enrolledÂ in my class for the fall. We now have a great relationship, and he is one of…
Last year, my students scored 0% proficient in Mathematics on the end-of-year state tests. There are several reasons for this, and it’s difficult to pinpoint a singular, significant reason why. The…
It’s been a while since I have written on this blog.For a long time, I couldn’t understand why. I tried to justify it with my crazy, hectic schedule. But that didn’t feel right. I tried to wait for…
There is a railroad track that runs through the center of my hometown. It’s the reason the Amerige brothers had the town-site named after George H. Fullerton in exchange for revising plans for the Sante Fe Railway to come through the area. It’s also the reason why I wrote this post.
In fourth grade, I learned about the history of my city and how Mr. Fullerton and his railroad had changed the course of history for this little plot of land, and turned it into the city it is today.
Three years later, in seventh grade, I learned about the history of my nation and how in studying history, you can see the powerful impact that geographical divides can play in creating different dichotomies amongst people. (i.e. the Atlantic Ocean separating colonial America from Europe, the Rocky Mountains in the Midwest separating the sophisticated East from the Wild Wild West)
Three months ago, I began my application for Teach For America and began to think about what I really thought about the socioeconomic divide in America today. I looked back at the railroad tracks that ran through my hometown, and what that meant for the city.
I grew up on this side of the train tracks - I went to Laguna Road Elementary School, a Nationally Distinguished School, which is only awarded to 70 some schools a year. I look back on my classmates, and most of their parents had graduated from college, and held respectable jobs that allowed them to live in modest single family homes. Most of us lived in this comfortable, suburban, middle-class bubble, and probably went to one of the top elementary schools in the area.
My mom worked on the other side of the train tracks. She’s a third grade teacher at Richman Elementary School, only a couple miles from my own. It’s a Title I school, which means that they receive special governmental funding every year because a high percentage of students are classified as disadvantaged due to poverty. Many of my mom’s students live in small condos with their entire extended family and sometimes several other families. Most of their parents don’t have a college degree or even a high school GED. Their parents work double shifts and sometimes double jobs at local fast food joints in order to make ends meet. Many times, her students don’t come to school simply because their parents aren’t there to make them go to school every morning.
In my second grade class at Laguna Road, we were given candy and pizza parties at the end of the school year when we finished a reading list at the library with some 150 books. Most years, my mom has to reteach her third grader to read simple sentences because he had forgotten how to read over the summer with no one to guide him or read with at home.
Tracing the twenty kids from my sixth grade class from Laguna Road, nineteen of us are now about to graduate from college. The twentieth kid, I’m not exactly sure where he ended up. Chances are, most kids in my mom’s class this year will not end up graduating from college. Some of them will probably not even graduate from high school.
So what are we to do then, when the invisible hand of socioeconomics pushes and fences the disadvantaged into the ghettos? Do you know where the term “the ghetto” comes from? In 1516, all the Jews in Venice, Frankfurt, Rome, and other cities were forced to live in “the ghetto,” where they were overcrowded in multi-family units and forced to live in miserable conditions. Sometimes 400,000 people were crowded into a space of 1.3 square miles…
Heal my heart and make it clean
Open up my eyes to the things unseen
Show me how to love like You have loved me
Break my heart for what breaks Yours
Everything I am, for Your kingdom’s cause
As I walk from earth into eternity
I wrote this post exactly one year ago. I can’t believe it’s already been a year…
After school on Friday, I stopped by the Teach For America office to drop off some assessments. I was finally on Thanksgiving break - I was excited to go back to my apartment, pack up my things, grab dinner with friends in La Jolla, and head home for the holidays. On my way out, I met Vic.
As soon as I came out the door, a man approached me in some ripped jeans and dirtied jacket who asked for some spare change for the bus. Having no change in my wallet, I smiled politely, apologized, and began to walk to my car.
As I was waiting to cross the street, I saw the man from before walk up next to me. Smiling, he approached me again and struck up a conversation: his motorcycle, as he pointed out behind us, had a snapped chain, hence the ripped jeans. He would’ve called for assistance, but today was his unlucky day: he had forgotten his wallet and cell phone at home. What a crappy day! Everyone he asked for help had turned him down, so he had resorted to walking the 30 blocks to his apartment to get his phone and wallet.
There were a million different excuses for me to turn and walk away: my place is in the opposite direction, I have to pick up my dry cleaning before it closes, I have dinner plans with friends in La Jolla, and.. I’m not entirely sure if this man is dangerous or not. But there was this moment, as the light turned green, where I just saw a glimpse of hopelessness - nothing was going well for this guy today, and the rest of the night didn’t look so fun, either.
We had a nice car ride to his “home.” We swapped stories about our lives and as it turns out, several other things in his life weren’t going too swell either. His business had tanked, and in order to save money, he had shacked up in the back supply closet of his friend’s hardware supply store… life wasn’t looking too bright right now. Yet, here he sat beside me, and could not stop smiling the entire way home.
I’m not sure who got more out of that car ride - Vic, who came up on a ride and a small act of kindness, or me, because, this Thanksgiving, I am even more grateful not only for the people and things I have been blessed with in my life, but the circumstances that surround my life.
What a great way to start off my Thanksgiving break.
Happy Thanksgiving, y’all.