(All pictures of students are used with written permission from student and parent.)
This weekend when we were in Cedar City my mom kept saying, “Tell me about your students, Bonnie. I think that’s the most fascinating thing about your blog is when you talk about your students.”
I was flattered because my mom is a staunch supporter of everything I do and also offended because according to my mom the most interesting thing about me is not about me at all but about the people I hang with on a daily basis.
The seventeen year olds.
So today I will tell you about my students. Mama, this post is for you.
Mark has the most horrific handwriting. He’s 18 years old and I can’t read his essays worth a crap- I can hardly even make out his name at the top. Today after going over some notes from their most recent essay, I made all the students write down one thing they were going to work on to get a better grade on their next essay. I wandered around the classroom a bit while they wrote and looked to see what improvements they planned to make.
“Write more newt?” I asked Mark after reading his scribbles. “What in the world is that supposed to mean?”
“Write more neat...” he replied sheepishly.
Able doesn't have a brain; he has a vault. As soon as something enters it, it never leaves. He’s a big kid- 6’2” and not at all lanky. The kids gave him “Wikipedia” for a nickname because he knows millions of facts about anything and everything. He sits in the back of the class with his laptop and literally looks up every subject I am talking about on wikipedia and spits off facts to me. Talking about Sweden’s education system? He’s got the facts right in front of him. What made William Golding write The Lord of the Flies? Able knows. Where the word synecdoche derived from? Just ask Able. He is also wildly obsessed with Norse Mythology. Every time he answers a question he somehow relates it back to Norse Mythology. Last week the kids took a test on The Lord of the Flies. He was supposed to analyze if he agreed with the book’s assertion that man is naturally evil and savage. He wrote about Norse Mythology instead.
Allan is the sweetest kid you’ll ever meet- he would never dream of hurting anyone. But he never stops talking. Yap yap yap yap yap all day long it's yap. I have to tell him four times a day to shut his trapper. When he came in after school to make up a test I asked him sweetly, “Allan, why don’t you ever be quiet for me?” He replied so honestly and sincerely, “Because Teacher. I feel like I have so much to share with the world and so little time to share it in.” Good enough, Allan.
Britany is always bubbly and happy. On the first day of school she told us all with a smile that her leg had had to be amputated after it was infected with cancer and that is why she now has a prosthetic leg. Some kid yelled, “Doesn’t that suck having a fake leg?” and she replied with the hugest grin, “Nope! Because it means I don’t have cancer anymore!”
Tim wrote me in his journals about his first kiss with Aubrey- another girl in the class. He confessed he's still in love with her, and my heart broke for him to have to be in a 2nd period English class with his unrequited love. He told me when he went in for that first kiss he noticed that her eyes were “recycle bin blue.” That is a phrase that will stick with me for the rest of my life.
Jason is my vocabulary master and every time I am struggling for a word at the board he shouts out the exact right word I was looking for. “Do you mean manipulative?” he questions. “Anarchy?” “Apathetic?” “Self disciplined?” I told him he needs to follow me around everywhere I go giving me the exact perfect word in the perfect moment. He said he'd consider it.
And there’s more. 250 more, in fact. It's crazy to me how unique and talented all these kids are-they are funny, smart, eccentric and loving. So loving. As the year goes on and I get to know them better I realize how much these kids are all carrying with them and I just can't help but have respect for everything they go through. I teach some tough cookies, that's for sure.
All names have been changed to protect the innocent.
Or the not so innocent.