Thank you Two Writing Teachers for creating this space for me to share my corner of the world.
I have had students whose home lives I knew were not good. They didn't sit down to family dinners. They didn't have parents who tucked them in at night or saw to it that they ate a good breakfast before sending them off to school. Sometimes, they didn't even see their parents in the morning. They didn't understand the definition of a family or a loving relationship.
I have had students who didn't want to go home after school, dreaded the weekends, and hated Christmas break. Some have come from abuse of all kinds. At times I have avoided sending home behavior notices or making phone calls to parents for fear of what would happen when they arrived at home.
I knew the last thing they thought about was having a pencil.
Each day my students arrive at my door, and I am given a gift. The gift to inspire minds, to challenge thinkers, to motivate unbelievers.
But with this gift also comes a huge responsibility. Our students come to us and expect to learn, to be respected, and to feel safe.
And many times they need a pencil.
At the end of each day, we tell them "Goodbye! See you tomorrow!" And we assume that we will.
Last week in our community, a five year old little boy said goodbye to his teacher when school was out. He didn't see her the next day because he never returned.
I know evil exists in this world. I read about it in the newspaper, and I watch it unfold on television every day. This week evil found its way into my hometown and took the life of this little boy.
This evil was his father.
This evil one tried to smother him with a pillow, wrapped a cord around his neck, and when that didn't work, he placed his 300 pound body on top of him until he stopped breathing. According to the newspaper, he had planned it all.
Teachers, school officials, and neighbors report abuse, but sometimes reporting seems to not be enough. When tragedy like this happens, many questions surface, and teachers go through so many "what ifs." Guilt consumes, and blame is thrown about like candy in a parade. But in this case, no one is to blame but the evil one.
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, a month dedicated to raising awareness and preventing child abuse. It is a time to take a step back and not only identify those needs, but to try and fill them as well.
And maybe it is time we give them a pencil.