Wednesday, October 29, 2008

My heart hurts

I just lost a student today.

At my old school, losing students was a weekly occurrence.

This one is going back to Mexico.

This one is going to alternative school.

One is moving in with grandma or grandpa or dad or tia.

The list is endless and the reasons are too many to number. I just kind of got used to it. I think because KIPP is a different type of school that requires at least some parent buy-in to make it happen, we lose kids a lot less frequently. I have had two kids withdraw since summer school. That's it, just two.

Today I lost E. I didn't see this one coming. She is gorgeous. And that's saying something for a 10-year-old to be gorgeous. On top of that, she's smart and she has a great personality. There are some dark sides too. There is a total lack of supervision at home, mom lives in Austin, she doesn't eat food because she thinks shes fat.

How do we get to a point where a 10-year-old thinks she's fat? How do we get there? That's an entirely different rant all together. (But while I think of it, check out this site and give them help in making a the world a positive place for girls.)

I've been eating lunch with E for the last week, basically to make sure she eats something. And to stick in things about her being beautiful and strong and taking care of her body now. I don't want her to regret things when she's 20 or 25 or 30. E is the kind of girl who breaks my heart. The kind of girl who just doesn't get how much she has going for her and how easily it can all slip away. She's the kind of girl you want to hug and shake at the same time. I have so many of those girls.

And now she's gone. Mom showed up today and withdrew her. No more 3D. No more Houston. I don't know what her future holds anymore. At least here I knew she'd be eating lunch. I knew she'd be told she was beautiful just the way she is. I'd like to think good things about her mom knowing best, but the sad truth is that a lot of the problems my students face are instigated by their parents. I'm afraid E falls in that category and it makes me cringe to think of what will happen in a new city, in a new school, still, without the support and structure she needs.

I got into an interesting conversation with our school social worker about praying for our kids. She said that she sees every bad thing you can imagine and there is only so much she can do. Eventually, she just hits a wall. She's not their parents and she's not God. That can really tie your hands. She does all the social work stuff she can do for our kids. She does a lot more than what she can do because she's amazing like that. Then she prays. That's all she has left. And if that will do something, then she says she prays as hard and as long as she can.

We were talking last night at bible study about taking joy in the suffering and also realizing every good and perfect gift comes from God. Neither of these things are particular strengths of mine, but the times that I really do find it easy to give it all up are times like these. I can't fix E. I can't fix her mom or her life or this messed up world that teaches a 10-year-old the word fat. I can't do those things no matter how badly I want to because at the end of the day I'm just me.

At the end of the day I can teach them. I can love them. And I can pray.


Amanda said...

This summer I went on a mission trip to San Jose, Costa Rica, and we worked with a feeding ministry, It hurt our hearts to see these people living in the "slums" and maybe they're there by choice, maybe they are living there because there is no place else that they can afford. It was so sad to see the beautiful kids running around who might not know a better life. There is not enough money in the world to help everyone living in poverty in this neighborhood. If you help one family, you must help the others and the need is endless. So we were told that the best we can do is pray for them. Pray that these people will have happy souls, because that's about the only thing that some of them have left. And if their soul is content, they will be content.

AnniePhil said...

lovely, Sam. I miss teaching so much. And I pray with a thankful heart because you are a teacher.

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