Tuesday, October 25, 2005


Imagine a community in which, on a rainy day, forty percent of families decide that their twelve year olds don't really need to brave the wet and wind, and an eighth grade classroom only houses about twelve students.

Imagine a meeting with a mother, a son, and a teacher in which Mom makes the following comment to the child -- looking at his lap -- right in front of the teacher:
"Your brother has Cerebral Palsy - he's legally retarded - and he makes better grades than you do. I don't even know you anymore. I could send you to a group home and my life would go on without you."

Imagine an honors student who, when asked to write about an event that has shaped his life, crafts a lovely five paragraph essay about his brother's death in a drive-by shooting.

Then imagine me, your intrepid reporter - daughter, granddaughter, niece, student, friend - slogging through the rain and wet - going back for more - day after day. Not quite happy yet, but, on many days, content. Still waiting in line for copies. Still busier than one might wish to be, especially at the ripe old age of twenty-three. But supported, instructed and instructing - warm and well in Brooklyn.

Imagine the look on a child's face who can't wait to show her mother the sticker on her homework. Imagine a girl who is so excited to have been named "most improved" that she talks about it for a week straight. Imagine a stack of essays written in steady careful loops and lines - on a topic I've assigned - that are better than last week's.

There are tiny victories and big laughs and work to put up on the bulletin boards - week after week after week. And I am falling in to the rhythm of coffee and laundry and lesson plans.

More word and words to come but for now be assured - I am still waking up and writing my name across the top of the chalkboard - and may be doing so for some time to come.

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