Floating down the Delaware

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Dec 19 2008

a case of the downs…

I forgot I teach in Camden.
It’s a very easy thing to do – my school is in a nice area, it’s a nice school, and a great little community has been built around this school.

This week I was reminded twice that I actually teach in Camden, a tough urban environment…
The first reminder came from one of my kiddos who came up to me and whispered, “No one is going to be home this weekend to cook me food. I’m going to be very hungry.” Fortunately, our kids get free (and reduced) meals and we had some leftover breakfast and I was able to find my kiddie food. It was a huuuuuuge wake up call…

Today’s slap in the face came from one of my shining stars who make me smile on a daily basis and is just a bundle of sunshine wherever she goes. She came into class today looking a little down and glum, definitely not her normal sunshiney self. It was clear throughout the day that something just wasn’t right with her and finally in the middle of the day she came up to me and told me that her great bapi (her great uncle…not grandfather) had died. We talked for awhile about how she was feeling and gave her some paper to draw pictures of her and her uncle, but it was obvious that’s she really shaken up about it.

Being the sheltered white girl from the suburbs I asked her how he died, in my mind thinking old age, car accident, etc. and forgetting the area I teach in, assumed that one of those was how he died.

Enter heart breaking moment here…

Sunny Student: Ms. S, he was shot in the neck. (Pointing to her veins) See these blue things in your hand – the stuff inside of them…
Ms S: The veins and the blood? (Yes, even in the most sad circumstances I’m still finding teachable moments…)
SS: Yeah, the blood came out real fast and he went to the doctor (meaning hospital) and they couldn’t make him better and he died.

Note to self: I teach in Camden.

2 Responses

  1. peace be with you, and the kiddies.

  2. msklem

    Ya, sadly, its not too much better in the burbs – I’ve got a kid who is going to AA because her step dad used to get her drunk so he could abuse her. We do the best we can because sometimes we’re all they have. Big responsibility.

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The few, the proud, the Camden Corps

Greater Philadelphia
Elementary School
Elementary Education

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