We've met for a brief daytime break during the school day. My head, having dropped to the table, rests on the back of my hands. I'm barely able to lift the feather-light weight of an espresso cup as I relay the latest of my classroom drama.
A bundle of perfectly sculpted lesson plans with activities and mastery goals that could bring tears of joy to an observing administrator, still lay untouched as my only goal has become, quite by necessity-----for those newly immigrated 12-year-old boys from a country that eludes me in my repertoire of worldly knowledge-----to keep their hands off each other, away from their noses and out of their pants which seem to have them in a perpetual state of itch. My arm muscle aches from pointing to the self-crafted poster in their home language that reads: "I expect you to behave like young men." And it is at this moment Nick starts to reminisce.
"Maybe they're from a small village," he says, a far off look in his eyes, "maybe a village without water. It's hard to stay clean without water. The family might not be used to having running water. Maybe they're conserving it without realizing."
Apparently, new teachers were required to work in that poor area before they could move on to another location; perhaps one they preferred. So few stayed and there was very little continuity in the students' lives. But Nick remembers one really dedicated music teacher.
He says, "she never gave up on us. She was so positive and cheerful and we really liked her. She stayed for a long time."
Okay! I get it. Positive. Cheerful. Never give up. I suck down that triple espresso and wander back into battle . . . um, I mean go back to school . . . fully caffeinated and bolstered by the fact that the boys might possibly, maybe, sort of, kind of, perhaps think about the effort I put into educating them.
Forty or fifty years from now.
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