Thursday, September 24, 2009

Do Good.

So this morning in class, I made a point to reiterate school dress code to my first period kids. We have uniforms, and as they are typical high school students, many of them take liberties with the uniform. They pretty much push it to the very limit and a lot of times, go all they way over the edge. Girls, fuchsia, bright green, and purple are not our school colors-- so if you're wearing any article of clothing those colors, even though that undershirt is positively darling, you're out of dress code. If any of you are wearing jeans, you're out of dress code. I'm just giving you a warning today because it's about to be DEFCON three million around here. People WILL be going to ISS for dress code violations, so gentlemen, tuck your shirts in.

So after we got through with the formalities and got into the bulk of our assignment for the day, I heard one of my girls mumbling under her breath, "This year is going to be hell. I don't know how I'm going to survive this. I'd just rather drop out and take care of my baby." And by baby she means actual child.

I patiently asked her to focus on her assignment and to try to not take all of the discouragement in in one big gulp. Slow down. Breathe. Focus. You're ok. Then she asked to talk to me outside.

Our conversation outside amounted to this: She's 15. She has a child. No drivers license. Completely dependent on a mother who, assumably, has some pretty major problems of her own and doesn't seem to bother much with her child or grandchild from what I can gather. This girl has a total of 2 pairs of uniform pants to wear to school. Mom hasn't had enough money/motivation to take the laundry to the laundromat in about a month. So, my very, very hard working student is likely to spend much of her upcoming time in school in ISS because she is blatantly out of dress code-- thus massively increasing her chances a court will find her to be truant and give her jail time, which can only lead to her losing credits, giving up on school altogether and dropping out.

Whew. That was a mouthful. And quite the conversation too.

So. I told her I'd see what I could do and we'd work something out. But for right now she needed to try to focus on working on her PSAT Vocabulary assignment. (Yeah right. After that?!)

So I started thinking. None of us has a say as to what parents we are born to or what country we are born in or what color of skin we are born with. That's total luck of the draw. I drew a VERY lucky hand. VERY. I had a leg up from the very beginning. Not everyone in this world is as fortunate as I am. And I have the means to help, so I should.

On my off period, I ran to the store and found 2 pairs of size ZERO pants and a small shirt. (I don't know if I've ever shopped for those sizes my entire life.) I brought them to her during one of her other classes and had her try them on in the bathroom. She was BEAMING when she came out of the stall. PERFECT! I said, Well, now you have an entire weeks worth of uniforms for school. Take a little stress off? She smiled and said yes.

I walked her back to class and before she went in, she turned and said, Miss, I really appreciate it. And I said, No big deal, chick. When you have the means to help others, you should. And someday you'll have the means, so remember to help when you can. She said, Oh I will! Then she popped her collar and went back into class.

So many times we hear the stories and we know we should do something, but we don't. We have the means and we sit on it. I didn't sit on it today. And I think I made someone's life a little easier. At least for the time being.


Kuenys said...

this made me cry. i did the same thing once for one of my little second graders with holes in her shoes. she had 7 other siblings because her parents were poor but wouldn't stop having children. made me so sad. i cried when she wore them everyday for two weeks after that!

Lynn Brooks said...

Wow! This made tears come to my eyes too....You really are a special person and I'm so glad you're in the school system, I know it's hard!
I promise you that the next time I have the opportunity I won't "sit on it" but will pay it forward. Thanks for the inspiration.

whitney said...

I love you. Thank you for doing this.