I’ve been connected to schools pretty much my whole life. In fact, until recently I didn’t think in calendar years. 2016 was the first year I consciously tried to do this. 2017 has been the first year I feel it.
This comes from always being involved in Education.
I was a student. I was a teacher. I was a public school advocate.
Only in 2015 did I walk away and embrace something completely foreign. The first time in my life when the year would be conceptualized as the calendar demands.
Having always been involved in education I can tell you this: I have some of the best stories. And some of the worst. Talk to a teacher and you will hear crazy tales. Talk to a teacher who has spent time educating students in urban American and you will hear crazier tales. I find that the more extreme the situation (extreme poverty/extreme wealth) the crazier those stories. That said:
- I have attended some of the best schools New York State has to offer. From a stellar public school system to the best private schools my schooling was at a level all students deserve. It was also some of the most miserable times of my life: it sucks to be the weird kid in rich, white, America.
- I attended a small liberal arts college and got my B.A. in English. The following likely goes without saying: Diversity was something we oooh’ed and aaaah’ed over. I am not proud of these times.
- I have taught in one of the worst areas of New York City. My students, every last one, lived in poverty. I had students with incarcerated parents or who were incarcerated themselves. Students living or who had lived in homeless shelters and on the streets. Students who had seen family members and friends murdered. In these first years of teaching I never had a white student. There is nothing right or wrong about that, but it is an interesting experience, to be the only white person in a room. To truly see your privilege when you’d rather not.
- I have taught in rural America. Where kids are rich or kids are poor. While violence was less gun-related there were more fists. Where kids tote guns and hunt and no one things twice. Where kids have killed their dinner, raised chickens, and some live in trailer parks with sewage ditches because… well, white poverty looks like that. I had foster kids and kids whose parents fostered.
- I have been a legal and contractual advocate for public school employees. This, my last dance in education, gives me the most writing fodder when it comes to education. My districts included a charter school in Detroit and a district so damaged by corruption it’s amazing it’s still open. I’m glad it is.
- I have worked with two pedophiles. I try to write about this but it’s hard. Some day I will get there. And I will not change the names. These two experiences have been the most defining in my time in education and are likely what made the decision that yes, it was time to leave.
Like everything in my life, I choose to find the humor. I choose to find the one moment of good. Of peace. Of joy. When I write about education and my experiences in a variety of educational settings I do it with a blunt honesty that will sometimes be cut with humor. This is the only way you get through the worst of the worst.
Adventures in Education is a place to find anything and everything you did and didn’t want to know about what goes on in schools. From shining examples of educators to things that will make you never want to teach.