It is time for us all to stand and cheer for the doer, the achiever — the one who recognizes the challenges and does something about it. ~ Vince Lombardi
Fernando is twelve year’s old, but he has enough baggage for a lifetime. He lives in poverty in our school’s toughest neighborhood. He frequently comes to school hungry, and physically disheveled. He is not shy about the fact that he is involved in a gang–frequently wearing “colors” and tagging his notebook, clothes and body with gang symbols. Fernando does not do homework. He rarely does classwork. He frequently fails courses. He fights at school. He does not respond well to authority and he has a diverse vocabulary of four letter words that he is not afraid to spew at other kids, or adults. School is not a priority for Fernando–he is firmly entrenched in survival mode.
It isn’t fair. It isn’t fair that kids come to school hungry. It isn’t fair that some parents don’t behave like parents. It isn’t fair that school staff have to put up with belligerent and disrespectful students. It isn’t fair that twelve-year olds lack basic math skills, or that they don’t possess hope for their future. It isn’t fair that we have students who don’t care about school. Schools are asked to do too much–but, if not us…who?
Fernando and I share an interest in sports. An opportunity. A few brief conversations and a glimmer of hope. An awkward smile. A handshake. A “hello, Mr. Delp.” Civility. Not perfect, but a foundation to build on.
Excuses are easy to come by, solutions are not. As educators, we have to see challenges as opportunities. Fernando’s future depends it.