The Day Job
December 23, 2009
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Sitting in a meeting with my colleagues after the students left today, I caught myself wondering how in hell I made it. I’m glad I did, no doubt. And I’m doing well. But how did I survive? And what can I bring to the table to help my students?
I work in an alternative education setting now with students who have drug abusing parents, who have been raped or molested (repeatedly in some cases), who shoot up drugs to dull the pain of extreme poverty and neglect. They have anxiety and paranoia and PTSD and psychosis. These kids are just babies at 14, 15, 16, 17, and 18 years old. Some have have already sat for hours in front of judges or counselors or CFS agents at their tender ages with stony “yeah, and what the fuck are you going to do about it?” faces.
These youths, both in my classroom and in others all across our nation, are disenfranchised and in awful shape and are looking to us to do something about it. And what are we doing about it? One of my students fell through the systems’ cracks and is now missing on the freezing cold streets of Massachusetts.
It’s a 6 hour a day, 30 hour a week job that is paying the bills so why worry so much, right? But it’s more than that to me. These kids here in Salem and the ones I left behind in Maine are my kids. They didn’t come out of my body (and I’m glad for that – can you imagine the stretch marks?) but they have my heart and dedication. I know I have to learn a certain amount of emotional separation, but I haven’t yet.
I’ll have something more intelligible to say about this eventually. I just had to get this off my chest.