Graduation last weekend was wonderful. All the kids with tassels and hearing about the honors and millions of dollars in scholarships won. The many kids that made amazing accomplishments were amazing.
There is an even bigger reason to celebrate. “Mr. Case, I want you to meet my mom. Mom, Mr. Case is the reason I graduated.” “Hey Coach Case, I made it! I graduated! Remember my dad? He wants to talk to you.” “Hola, Senior Case. You helped my nina become a senorita. Gracias.”
When I started teaching physical science, I knew this was going to end my teaching career. NO ONE wanted to teach these kids. After all, they are not honors. They struggle. They can’t pay attention. They are behavior issues. They just don’t want to listen. They don’t want to learn, they are just here because they have to be. Right? That’s what I was told. That’s what I heard.
These kids have taught me something valuable: THAT WAS ALL WRONG! I have had the honor to teach some of the most hungry kids in the school. These kids are hungry for learning. They are hungry for attention. They are hungry for structure. They are hungry to show they can accomplish anything.
“Mr. Case, there ain’t no way I can pass this class. I suck at math” said one student first week this semester. “Mr. Case, I think I aced the final! It was so easy” same student said yesterday after the state exam. Score came in: 88%
Last fall, first week of class: “Hey Case, I am just waiting my time till I turn 16. Then I can drop out. Don’t matter what I do, I’m out of here in a couple months.” Same student yesterday after his math exam: “Hey Mr. Case, think you can help me with my summer school? They said if I pass both of the classes, and I pass everything next year, I can graduate next June.”
Facebook message yesterday: “Mr. Case, please accept my friend request. I need to talk to you.” Today, “Hey, I know I was your biggest pain in the (butt), but would you be a reference for me? I keep saying to myself, ‘how would Case do this’ and realized I owe you.”
After graduation: “Are you Mr. Case? He said look for the guy with the pony tail. Thank you for kicking him in the (rear). He’s the first one to graduate in our family.”
These are the reasons to celebrate. Kids lives are being changed. I’m not going to have those kids that walk across the stage with half a dozen color tassels. My kids are not going to have the millions of dollars in scholarships. My kids are the ones that are going to break the cycle of poverty. They are going to break the endless loop of failure. They are the ones that can be the role model in their family.
For many of my kids, this is the life time accomplishment. Walking across the stage will be their crowning achievement. For some, it will spark a hunger to do more, be more, accomplish more.
I celebrate the accomplishment my kids are breaking the mold that society has forged and forced upon them. I celebrate my kids for teaching me. It is MY honor to celebrate with them.