Small Things With Great Love

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Apr 07 2013

J in Jail

J is a student of mine. He is 18 years old, a sophomore, has a 2 year old son, and is currently in jail.

I found out one morning through a student who showed me his mugshot which was posted onto facebook.

There was a huge fight between 2 rival gangs at my school. 11 students were arrested. He was one of them.

Just the day before, he came to visit my classroom during my planning period. He had misplaced his homework and needed another copy. He also wanted extra review because he had been suspended the previous week. I told him that I was upset at him because of his behavior in class earlier that day. I told him that he played around too much and that he needs to not just think of himself, but about others in the classroom as well. That his playing around cost other’s their education because he was being a disruption. Basically I told him that he needs to stop f-ing around and get his act together. I gave him his homework and told him to go to class. That was the last thing I said to him.

The next day I found out he was arrested and charged for battery.

Just when he started to work and get his act together, he gets himself in this mess. What if, instead of kicking him out, I talked to him and helped him see the importance of his education? What if he really needed to tell me something? What if I could have done something to help prevent the incident from occurring? I know I can’t beat myself up. But I can’t help but think that J was one of the students I invested most of myself into. I remember coming back from ┬áChristmas break (and dreading it) to a x-mas card he had placed in my mailbox. It said:

“Dear Ms. Wu, It is a pleasure to be in your because because you make it interesting, not like other teachers. You made me like geometry and that’s why I do it even though I can be a clown sometimes. Anyway, have a great Christmas Break!

Sincerely, J”

J was the one who gave me hope. That if he of all people liked my class, there had to be more who do.

What hurts me the most as a teacher is that I have no way of communicating with him. He has withdrawn from school and his number is disconnected. All I want to do is talk to him.

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