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Broken Hearted but Not Surprised

January 9, 2013
Ms Summers Birthday Note

Aaron came to find me on my birthday morning with this note he’d written for me. We were on our field trip to North Carolina. He had never been out of Louisiana before. He told me the world was so big.

I don’t know how to write this. I got a phone call from a student last night. He’s the student of mine who calls me Mama Summers, who calls from New Orleans to talk to me weekly, at least. He had to tell me something bad. One of our boys was shot. And killed.

How do you know? Are you sure? Maybe it’s not true.

Yeah, Ms. Summers. It’s true.

NOPD still hasn’t identified the body, but one of my sweet homeroom boys has not been seen since Saturday, and the description matches A. And the kids knew he’d been shot since early yesterday, the body found today. Which means whoever shot him, knew him.

I spent the last hour reading about last year. A. appears in my writing so often. He is such a source of light for me. Here he is the reason I go back to class when I’d been hiding, crying in the teacher’s lounge. He grew the most out of all my students. He was an inspiration for me when teaching times were tough.

And here. On May 25, 2012, I write, “One of my quiet students is getting pulled into a gang. I talked to him about it at length one morning. He claims he just walks places with them and hangs out and does stuff. Uh, isn’t that being in the gang? I tried to explain to him that we become who we associate with, even unintentionally. And that stray bullets find targets. And that once he’s in, he’s IN. There is no getting out. There is only getting dead. As a teacher I consider myself lucky. I have not had to bury any of my kids this year unlike many teachers across New Orleans.”

And A. is the receiver of my long diatribe about how getting started with the bad crowd takes you down a bad path with no brakes and no steering wheel. A. was the reason I cried in front of my class for the first time. He’s the reason I told my kids I loved them for the first time.

I’m broken hearted, but shamefully not surprised.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. deirdlewis@yahoo.com permalink
    January 9, 2013 10:54 am

    Oh sunny. : (

    Sent from my iPhone

  2. Claudia permalink
    January 9, 2013 12:12 pm

    I don’t know you, but please accept my deepest condolences. I cried reading this entry. What a loss for you – I hope you are able to get in touch with some of your former colleagues and students to share the grief. Something similar happened here at my school last year, when a teacher lost a former student to a heroin overdose. She posted his picture on her special sad memorial wall, with the other pictures, and said she didn’t take any time off because, “I want them to see how much it hurts, how much it breaks our hearts. Maybe another one will think about it then.” I know that if I had loss my most special project kid last year, I would have been devastated. I was lucky – he got his gang tattoo removed, graduated and is now in community college, working a decent job supporting his infant daughter. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Again, my deepest condolences. Just know there ARE others that you were able to help, profoundly.

  3. January 9, 2013 1:03 pm

    ugh. my heart breaks too sunny. i am so sorry.

  4. Betty Mantz permalink
    January 9, 2013 6:00 pm

    Oh Sunny honey, I am so sorry for your loss. And so sorry for the insanity that is perpetuated by gangs and poverty. You gave him a precious gift. I am so proud of you. And so sad.

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