Original article posted by Lou:
We had heard numerous horror stories and rumors about the children and the faculty at these schools in what they call the impact area, they were all running thorugh my mind as I wondered where I would be placed, and what my mentor teacher would be like. We found the office and waited for the principal to come and send us to our designated classrooms. The waiting was the worst part. The assistant principal finally came and she lead us out of the office and across various concrete pathways to the seperate little building that is the library.
There we waited for the principal Ms. Brewer to arrive and send us to our designated places.
The intercom soon erupted with the voice of the woman we had met earlier, the assistant principal, notifying the staff that there was a brief faculty meeting in the library. Soon the small room was filled with chattering educators wondering why their morning preperations were being interrupted and who these young women were sitting at the tables. The pricipal explained that we were practicum students from Southern Utah Unversity and then proceeded to assign us to various teachers (to their complete surprise). I was placed with a third grade teacher who looked to be in her early 30’s with dyed strawberry blonde hair, trendy clothes, and mirrored sunglasses that were so close to being clear that they couldn’t help much with keeping the sun out of your eyes. (My streotypical vision of a trendy Las Vegas Resident.)
Ms. Voshall, as I soon learned her name was, and I quickly became friends. We were both outspoken people who shared a similar passion, teaching. She soon had me forgetting all of my fears and preconceptions that I had been fostering about this old outdated school. It was soon time to go out and pick up our class from the field.
We led the students back to the classroom and the week officially began; my Vegas Practicum.
Ms. Voshall had me up and teaching on the first day and provided me with numerous opportunities throughout the week. This little class of 19 students was made up of all hispanic and ESL children, except for one little boy who had caucasian blonde hair and blue eyes, who was dealing with various learning disabilities and physical limitations due to his mother taking crack during her pregnancy. Every one of these kids was academically behind where they needed to be to meet the standards for grade level.
These eight and nine year old kids were dealing with family members in gangs and drugs not only on the street but in their homes. They would cuss and swear, and they knew sexually explicit things that no child should know, not in third grade, not ever. They wore hand-me-down clothes, were on free or reduced lunch, and most of their families couldn’t afford paper and pencils for them let alone medical insurance and balanced meals.
I became attached so quickly and I hated the day that it was time for me to leave. These children had so little and yet they loved me whole heartedly. They wanted to learn and they worked so hard. They were so proud when I would compliment them on their thinking skills or praise them when they responded with a correct answer. I heard stories about some of thier older siblings in fith grade that have been in and out of Juvy, of children in our class who were raped or pimped out by their parents before the age of five. Most of them will likely end up in gangs, pregnant, or in jail long before they turn 18. Few of them will beat the odds that are staked against them.
I would love nothing more than to be there in that classroom everyday to encouraged them to try, to fight the odds, to avoid the drugs, and to work hard in school, to make something great of their life. These children need a role model, they need some direction, but mostly they need someone who believes in them, someone who truly cares about their success not just in the classroom but in life.
This week reminded me why I want to be a teacher. What these past 4 years have all been about. I am here to make a difference in the life of a child, not just to teach children their times tables and spelling but to help them see the potential that exists within themselves.