The Reality of Life in the Classroom

This week in my classroom…
by Carly Jo Calace

– I sent a child to the nurse in the morning. She had a 102 fever and threw up. No one could reach her parents the entire day. They never came to get her after school. The nurse walked her home and the parents didn’t even come to the door to find out why.
– A previous student from last year visited me during lunch. She told me all about how her cousin was murdered last night. Everyone is crying and sad. They’re going to see the body today. She spent her entire recess and my whole lunch break with me just chatting.
– One of my students and his mother were kicked out his aunt’s trailer home and had to move into a shelter. Luckily we can provide special busing so he can still come to our school.
– Another student showed up in the same white shirt 3 days in a row, which by yesterday, had turned gray with with grime. Thank goodness our school has extra clothes to give him and a shower if it comes to that.
– A different student’s father didn’t show up to chaperone for our field trip like he said he would. The child was sick with worry because his dad left angry the night before and never came home. He’s still not home. A trip to the counselor helped him out a lot.
– On the bus ride to said field trip, another student told me all about his secret money hiding space under his trailer home. He further explained that he has to hide his money because his grandpa steals it to buy cigarettes. He now hides his money in my desk drawer because grandpa found his new hiding place (it’s only $5).
– A little girl asked to grab 2 pears instead of one because she worried her mom was too tired to the grocery store again. I gave her a bag of extra food and snacks that the school keeps around. Good thing we give all of our students free breakfast and lunch.
– A little boy showed up with a shaved head. He was so embarrassed that he refused to take his hood off his head. Eventually he told me his mom shaved his head because his aunt has lice so badly that you can see the bugs jumping around. He was terrified of the lice crawling into his ears and getting into his brain. A little research together during recess put his fears to bed.
– Another student shared that, when her dad gets out of jail, he’s bringing her to Dave N’ Busters. We started her a countdown on our class calendar.
– Her story prompted another boy to share that his dad is going to get his ankle monitor off soon so they can go for a bike ride this summer. Of my 28 students, I know of 5 who have a parent that has recently been or still is incarcerated.

Keep in mind that these are just the events of ONE week in ONE classroom. Are we actually surprised that so many of these kids can’t read or add? Is it really public schools that are failing kids? Maybe schools have to be more than a place to learn for some kids. Support public schools – they’re doing more for kids than you can even begin to understand.

The following is not part of my original post. Rather, it is a comment I wrote that has since been lost in the shuffle of other comments.

“First, I want to say that I am overwhelmed by the amount of support shown to teachers and school staff in the comments of this post. I was shocked when this post was shared over a hundred times. Now it’s reached thousands. That speaks volumes about the number of people that appreciate the hard work done in our schools! I am grateful for your support. Sometimes a small “thank you” is all a teacher needs to get though a tough day.

Second, I am disheartened by the negativity shown towards parents in some of the comments. I thought about keeping quiet, but decided to chime in. By no means do I think what is happening to the students in my classroom, and in classrooms across the nation, is acceptable. And, as adults, parents do need to take responsibility for the care of their own children. That being said, the students in my classroom today – the sweet, broken children that you want to hug and love so much – will, statistically speaking, likely grow-up to become adults just like their parents. The cycle will continue and one day their children will be my students, repeating their parents’ same sad story. Rather than focus on the faults of the parents, I think we need to shift our focus to ending the cycle. Research supports the huge difference one consistent, caring adult can have in the life of a child. Find a child in need – be that adult. Stop the cycle.

I hope this comment doesn’t spark controversy, but rather encourages us to seek out possible answers to the horrific problems our children are facing daily. Children are suffering and so is our society. They might not be our children or our responsibility to clothe, feed and raise, but don’t we all have a responsibility to leave this place better than we found it?”

Also, for those who were concerned, I’d like to reassure you that I am very aware of my position as a mandatory reporter and take that role seriously, as do all the teachers and staff members I work with.

Thank you again. Theses days I rarely see posts on Facebook where the response is almost 100% positive and supportive. I’m glad we are able to unite behind such an important issue, the well-being and happiness of our kids.

Kindest regards,

Carly (and Sue)

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