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The LEAP, The Pen, The Prom

April 20, 2012
teach in new orleans

I can only remember leaving town 5 or 6 times while growing up in Iola, Kansas. We stayed home and played old school rock band. As an adult, I'm fairly well traveled. As I tell my students, travel expands the mind, and I can't wait to take them on a college tour.

Friday afternoon in New Orleans. LEAP testing is finished. The building is silent except for my massive air conditioning vent vibrating and a weed-eater outside.

Last night I took one of my old students prom dress shopping.  We were wandering around David’s Bridal holding several size 22 dresses singing along to Mariah Carey’s Always Be My Baby which was coincidentally the first song that played at my junior prom. She settled on a gold, floor length gown. Her ex-boyfriend is her date. He’s wearing a white tux. Maybe a leopard print vest if they can find one. Sharp.

While we were prom dress shopping, another teacher at my school witnessed a murder in broad day light. New Orleans is so beautiful and so disturbing. According to, that puts us at 55 murders this year.

Earlier this week a student was excited to show me his new tattoo on his calf. It’s big. A couple stars and dice. I asked him why the dice read one-one-three. No reason. He just thought it was pretty. I asked if his mom knew he had it. Oh yes. His mom’s boyfriend did it for him. He’s 16. He wants more.

A student I haven’t seen in weeks came in for LEAP testing. She told me she’s just been at home, chillin’, watching TV. Her cronies aren’t here anymore (one is home, pregnant, with a new STD she can’t pronounce, the other is at another school), so she’s all alone. Funny how a school bully turns into a lamb when she doesn’t have a crew. She won’t go in the lunchroom at all, and eats corner store pies for lunch, bouncing in between classrooms where teachers will talk to her.

Another student popped in Wednesday. I only see her about once every couple weeks, and she always gives me a huge hug, picks me up, and we say how much we missed each other. This week she said, “You’ll never guess where I was this weekend!!!” She was so excited, and of course I obliged. “The pen! I was in jail till Monday!! Girl, I got myself picked up!!”

Last but certainly not least, in 10 days I will be taking a group of 40 8th, 9th and 10th graders on a 5-day college campus tour throughout the south. Most of my students have never left this city except for Katrina evacuation (and that certainly wasn’t by choice). The school is paying for the trip, although the students need to pay for a meal and snacks and any souvenirs or spending money. I thought I’d do a little fundraiser (or food-raiser for those of you in NOLA). If you’d like to contribute (even $5), Pay Pal me at sunnydawnsummers at gmail dot com. If you’re in town and want to pick up a couple boxes of granola bars or make cookies for me to take along, I’d be happy to fill a box or a cooler with goodies for our bus. It takes a village, people. It takes a village.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 20, 2012 4:01 pm

    Gurl- let me donate some money to you! You’re doing “god’s work” as some good church ladies say! If you have a PayPal account, let me know. Hugs to you… Good writing.

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