We survived our week with the girls. We also made it through our first day and a half without experienced staff to lean on. Actually it was pretty easy except for a bit of confusion about a disciplinary measure instituted before we came on. But no big thing and all went well. One kid was really funny; Thursday evening, when she learned we were there with them on our own she asked,"Aren't you afraid?". I said 'of what?' knowing full well what she meant. She said,"Of us". Claire and I found this pretty amusing considering the kids we have worked with in our careers. By Saturday night, this same girl was telling us about her life and her family. She and two other girls were very open about some of the really distressing details of their infancy and growing up. Maybe they're used to talking this openly with the adults with whom they spend a little time. I hope it indicates that we are easy to talk to and the kids feel safe telling us things that are painful and could be construed as embarrassing. I am really hopeful that we will be able to build trust relationships with some of these (sometimes,usually)sweet kids.
My decision to go to college and work in education was shaped in large measure by my art teacher in my freshman year in high school. He was a first year teacher and a great guy. The best thing he did was to listen to me and treat me and my interests and opinions with respect. Interestingly enough he was going to kick me out of the class. At that time Chicago schools required freshman to take art and sophomores to take music, and the baby-boom classes often had 35 to 40 students in them. What a melee! I guess I was really a jerk though, because he didn't boot Frank Guerrero who wore his Latin Kings sweater to class and called Mr.G 'Geronimo'. Hell, I thought there were at least 20 guys in the class who were way rowdier than I was. Anyway,during the meeting with Mr.Griffin and the principal, my dad expressed surprise saying that I had always loved art and even expressed an interest in commercial art. Mr G offered me the chance to switch to an elective class which was much smaller so he could actually teach me some things. And he did teach me, about art and about how a concerned adult can really make a difference in a kid's life. Thanks Mr Griffin.