When you care so much it hurts

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Being a teacher in NY has its good moments and its bad moments. There are times when I love doing what I do and there are times when I wonder why God has put me in a place where there is so much trouble and so much pain. The kids are going through so much now a-days it makes me appreciate the love that my mother gave me.

This last week has been the toughest for me. One of my favorite students got arrested, and it broke my heart. He is such a great kid, so smart and so driven.. I wonder why he would go and do such a thing.. this makes no sense. So let me explain how I found out...

I was putting up some of my students work on the board outside of our classroom when my student (lets call him Trevor) ex-girlfriend walks over and says to me if I heard what happened? She was so distraught and was so ashamed to tell me. I said to her that I am open whenever she wants to talk to get it off her chest. She eventually told me that Trevor got arrested, for armed robbery. I looked at her dumb founded and heartbroken. She said that since Sunday he was in jail and that it doesn't look good. After the initial shock wore off I hugged her and said that we'd talk later because she was going to be late for class and so was I.

This kid just turned 17.. he was graduating in June.. he is in the top 10% of his class, how the heck could this happen?

Trevor has had a troublesome couple of years. He grew up without his dad, and about 2 years ago his mother passed away. Despite it all he's worked hard to be a good student. He did what he had to do in school. What made things look really good in his favor was that he was a Special Education kid. He was diagnosed as having "ED" Emotionally disabled, but with counseling and other services he had learned to control himself and was doing phenomenal... Not many kids within the Sp-Ed system did was he was doing... but lets continue... He was living with his brother and from what I heard, his brother wasn't taking care of him the way that he should of. He wasn't giving him the monetary support that he would need and it was getting tougher to hide the fact that he was wearing the same clothes all the time. I wondered why he wouldn't ask someone, anyone for help, but I guess its tough to ask when you're 17, and you're a boy, and you have all these other ppl looking at you, and you've got a strong sense of pride.

After class I went into the teachers bathroom and I cried. I felt like I was hit with such a hard blow, how could this have happened to him? He spoke to me, why didn't he say something. I told him that I was there whenever he needed me.. I gave him my cell number... if he needed money WHY DIDN't he ask me.. I failed this kid.. Didn't I? I had to get into contact with his brother so I went to see the social worker at my school. After trying the home and seeing if we could reach him on his cell she and and I got his brother and asked him about what happened? The brother says that he has no idea what got into Trevor, he said that the situation at hand isn't like his brother at all, and why would he do such a thing. I couldn't tell him that he was the reason that Trevor decided to rob someone, that it was because of his negligence that Trevor decided to take matters into his own hands and try to take someone for their belongings.. that it was his fault that Trevor would be facing a life that was that much harder now that he'll have a record. I couldn't say these things because in actuality it wasn't all his fault. Trevor knew what he was doing, he knew that if he did this he could get caught. He knew that there would be consequences to pay and that it woudn't look good. Though, I knew all of his I still wanted to blame Trevor's brother for not being the parent that he was supposed to be to his little brother.

I had to get to my next class, I couldn't get the situation off of my mind but I had to teach others, there were other students that I could possibly save from heading down the wrong path.

After school my social worker called me into her office she informed me that bail was set at 300K! *insert continuous blinks right here* WHAT!!! This is his first offense... he has no priors.. Its ridiculous!! What I found out was that, he was with someone who had serious priors and he is guilty by association!! He wasn't alone, the other kid that he was with had a record already and was the one with the gun and was the one who pointed the gun and tried to rob the guy but since he was there and was his accomplice he has to also pay the price!

I invest a lot of time at my job. I make it my priority to know my students and let them know that they can talk to me when they are having problems. I tell them that I'm there to be their ear when they need someone to talk to or rather have someone there who will listen.. but I find that this is also taking its toll on me..I feel drained and overwhelmed. I feel like I may need to see someone because their troubles are becoming my troubles. They tell me something and I sit there and ponder on it for days. I will ask them about what they're going through and after I hear about it, it consumes me!

I spoke to my social worker about this and she says that this is what happens when you care about your job, when you care about those who lives are in your hands.. and when you care so much it hurts. It hurts because you want the best for them and though you can't give it to them you still try!

I know I can't save all my students, I know that there will be many whose lives I can't take control of. There are many that will fall and many that will give up, but my dream, my ultimate goal is to try and save at least 1... If I can save 1 from making the most detrimental mistake of their life I will feel accomplished. I will know that I came into this and though its going to take some time to make it, its ok, I will get through to some...

as for Trevor, I don't know whats going to happen.. but I pray that he's ok!!


Tiffany Nicole said...

OMG..I'm so in tears myself. I share and feel your roller coaster of emotions. Sometimes I just don't know. But one thing I do know, you are doing nothing wrong.

After 8 years working in a high school I have had to learn that my passion could not be my downfall. I couldn't be so consumed into fulfilling the need of evey student that needed something. Sometimes God didn't want me to fulfill the need; He simply wanted me to be a part of the process. Sometimes I planted the seed and other times I watered, but He gave the increase. He put the right people together at the right time to fill the need. Sometimes He used me other times He didn't. When he didn't I just thanked Him for putting another student in my path and hoepefully the time he/she was in my presence was memorable and lasting. I pray I said or did something to encourage them to be their best in life.

It's not about "saving" them all. It's just about being yourself and continuing to care enough to go the extra mile when needed.

Don't give up hope. The mere fact that you walk in those school doors everyday is a victory for your students. Sometimes your the only one positive contact they will see all day long. Your work is not in vain!

Ladynay said...


You said it yourself, you can't save everyone.

When your students fall, it will not always be about something you did/said/whatever wrong.

You are in a profession that I know I don't have the guts or drive to have. Thank you for being there. Thank you for doing what you can with our kids.

Ms. Liryc said...

Tiffany, you are so right. I have to look at it in this perspective. I should see it as God doing his bidding and I may not be part of the whole process, and sometimes the outcome might not be what I wanted and its ok, cause God is real.. Thanks for the words.. they hit home

Nay, its a stressfull payless job and I love it.. there are more good times than bad but its hard. Trying to remain positive despite the actuality of the negative is tough but I rise above.. thanks sister girl!

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