Two more student stories, from way, way back at the beginning of my career. It seems the longer ago they happened, the more likely I am to remember them.
Katydid is encouraging me to write these stories down and turn them into a book. I just don't know how I'm going to tie all these elements into a plot. But for now I'll get the thoughts down and worry about how they fit together later.
The first three years of my career, I taught middle school. It wasn't by choice, but when the principal called me on Saturday before school started on Monday (yeah, AFTER pre-planning had occurred...I walked in on the first day WITH THE STUDENTS), I jumped at the chance to teach ANYWHERE they would give me a chance. And oh yeah...a paycheck.
We were doing a spelling/capitalization lesson one day, and we were talking about the four seasons. Not the singing group, because clearly then it would have been capitalized. I was telling the students that the seasons of the year are NOT typically capitalized, unless they happen to be someone's name, like a girl named Summer.
This voice SNORTED from the back of the room. "Summer?" (Only it came out more like "Summah?" because we live in the South and I was teaching in ... never mind.) "Who gon' name a kid Summah?"
I paused. Long pause. "Gee, Nefrateri. I don't know who would do such a thing."
The other student story came from a young lady whose face I can still see clearly in my mind, but her name escapes me. By this time I had moved to the high school, where I felt like I belonged and my sarcasm was often understood and sometimes even appreciated. The young lady in question was in one of my advanced classes, a quiet girl who was a teacher-pleaser but not in an obnoxious, annoying way.
She wrote me a letter at the end of the year, and I swear I kept it, but I can't find it after moving a dozen times or so, once stealthily in the middle of the night, but that's a story for another night. It was a pretty long letter, full of typical end-of-the-year stuff and thanking me for being her teacher, but one line at the end of the letter has stuck with me for the rest of my life. And I think it always will.
She said, "You have taught me that my parents were wrong. All white people aren't bad."
I wonder where she is today. I hope the sentiment has stayed with her.