Last week (before my husband and I left the kids for the weekend and before a presidential election rocked the nation) I was having just a normal week at school. Well, it was a rather long, tiring week, but a regular one nonetheless. Until one day a student in one of my classes asked if he could talk to me after class. My answer as always, “no problem.”
He’s a jovial kid, mixed with a bit of a tough facade. He makes others laugh, but he doesn’t like the joke pointed at him. He’s bright and serious about his work, but doesn’t like others to know. I always look forward to reading his writing. With a thoughtful expression he came seeking advice. He had recently overheard a conversation. A student (one that I know too) was explaining the depths of her poverty to another. He relayed a story of a family sharing one can of soup a day. The same family goes from house to house. The same family is fearful of winter.
She hides this well because I didn’t have any idea. None.
But he did. He listened and felt compassion. He could’ve ignored. He could’ve forgotten, but he didn’t. He came to me because he wanted to help.
I am the teacher so I should know how. I took the regular avenues by connecting the student with the social worker. That’s what we are trained to do, but I didn’t think it was enough. Let me rephrase – it certainly was not enough for the young man who sought my advice. Instead we are co-sponsoring a food drive. All my classes are involved and everything donated will go to an organization in the city. We agreed that I would set aside a nice bundle for her family and give it to her privately. I am still working out how I’ll actually do this without offending her, but I know I’ll figure it out.
I think sometimes (actually often) people tend to think of teens as self-absorbed. They are. We all were when we were teens too. Yet I have also come across many thoughtful, considerate, introspective individuals throughout my career. There are plenty of fifteen year olds who know how to listen, who have compassion and who want to make the world a better place. Take it from me, I talk with one hundred and fifty of them every day. I often feel like I’ll be in good hands when I am old.
No matter what your political affiliation is or how you feel about the election, try to have faith in kindness – it is alive and well.
P.S. This week my school had amazing professional development from the Ana Grace Project. The foundation believes in Love Wins. It was informative, funny and inspirational. Check out their website to see what they do and why they do it: http://anagraceproject.org/
You won’t be disappointed.