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You Need Your Education, Son!

November 9, 2011
Sunny Dawn Summers and her students

My favorite trash talk comment was, "You need your education, son!"

It’s a 4-day week. It’s the end of our trimester. I’ve been giving Benchmark exams for 4 days now, giving the students ample time to write their constructed response essays and bubble in their answers to grammar, punctuation, and spelling puzzles. It’s been a rough few days. If you’ve never been good at tests, your behavior peaks during this trying time. I’m ready for a break. Five more days. Five more days. Five more days.

Today after school, many of my boys were outside playing flag football directed by a City Year volunteer. The boys were amazing. Their trash talk was incredible. They end every sentence with “son” or “boy”. They were happy in a way that I don’t get to see. The classroom is a struggle. Trashcans get kicked over, pencils broken. The yard is the safe place, the classroom is dangerous. Days like today I am able to see what I work towards, that undeniable joy they feel when they’re great at something. I see glimpses. I need more of that.

During literacy block today, we Skyped with a classroom in North Carolina who read books about Hurricane Katrina and wanted to meet some actual students who lived through it. My students sat (mostly) quietly, telling their stories. One student swam 4 miles to the Superdome while his little brother and sister were carried in a refrigerator. One student was flown out of the city to Arizona and thought his mom was dead for years before she was found again. One student recalled stories of living in the Superdome, watching people jump to their deaths, listening to girls being raped in the bathroom, feeling threatened and unsafe for days, and in turn years. These resilient students come to school, veterans from a war that is far from over. When I look at them I must see students who made the choice to try today, rather than students who made the choice to not try the other days. It’s easy to love them, but it’s misery to wait for them to want it for themselves.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Nikki permalink
    November 9, 2011 9:15 pm

    Sunny, thank you so much. This is truly amazing work.

  2. November 10, 2011 8:25 am

    You are so lucky to have each other!

  3. November 10, 2011 10:38 am

    Get your butt to KC, Sum!

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