Thursday, May 15, 2008

Random Acts of Kindness

This is an edited version of an email I sent to someone that strikes a chord in my heart.

Hi! Again, you are kind and apparently a person after my own heart. I bet you love to go to parties where you don't know anyone and you still have a great time. I love to do that!
Sometimes, though, I do take a Wilsonian approach and try to make the Web safe for democracy...or at least basic human decency.
(response) I am always a proponent of human decency. I work very hard to not go off on the incredibly blatantly ignorant folks that abound in the virtual world. I'm old enough that I don't have any sympathy for spoiled rotten kids that are "bored." I have empathy and sympathy for those that are grateful for anything they get and don't feel that they are entitled to a free ride for just being special.
eep. I just had a very judgemental teacher moment.
I promote kindness and even sometimes have drawings for "ROAK's" with my students. If someone performs a Random Act of Kindness, they are allowed to report it and enter a drawing into the hat. What does the winner of the hat get? Presents from other folks "donating" to the hat fund. I've had parents that donated some really cool things.

I'm happy that you credit your teachers with some influence. I also wrote on my HS paper and HS and college yearbooks. I've always written "state of the moment" papers about whatever I was experiencing at the time. I was SO lucky that I had teachers that encouraged me and pushed me.
Here in Miami it's been very warm. We had record-breaking heat last week (higher than 94 degrees), and it's only May. I have a couple of friends in the Lone Star State and I almost got to meet one of them in San Antonio in March. She's probably going to move to Georgia once the school year ends, though, so any hopes I had of seeing the Alamo and going on a cruise by the River Walk probably will go the way of the dodo and the great auk.

(response) It's 63.5 degrees here which for this time of night in Central north Texas is reasonable. I think we may have hit 90 last Saturday when baby girl was graduating from TCU.
You should still go to San Antonio. The downtown area is so very scenic and so fun to walk around. I don't know if you have Spanish bt if one ventures out in further concentric circles it comes up.
I make my students crazy with my "pidgin" Spanish. If someone comes in late or I've not seen them for a while I'll say "Donde esta frijole?" Where have you Bean? I have some kids who just freaking crack up over it (as they see the double entendre in multiple languages). I catch a new group every year.

I hope your youngest gets that TV job. What position is she applying for? Reporter? Producer? Staffer?
Rachael is applying for reporter. She's qualified to produce and certainly staff. She wants to be on-air talent. She was on the Dallas District TV show her Senior year. It was the second year of the program. She was the white kid. She's the ONLY one to come from her High School for the show.
What's kind of sad is that she could come teach at my school next year starting at about 45K a year. She can get a job as a baby girl reporter somewhere and make 25K, I hope to the powers that be that she can find cheap rent.
I once was one of my 11th-grade English teacher's favorite students, because I really tried hard to improve my writing in part because I wanted to impress her.

Your 11th grade English teacher was a powerful force. Rachael had Ms. K. who kicked her ass and loves her still and just happened to be big sister Rebecca's 10th grade world history teacher. Ms. K. is the nice lady who married the rabbi and just had twins. She had the highest AP English passing rate in one of the top ten urban school districts in the US. I know about those junior English teachers that are a force of nature.
I cannot wait to tell B* about Enrique Granados. He's a hard case. He's a special hard case and I love him. He probably will never know how much. I hope to God that he's passed enough to have senior hours next year. His counselor and I are are better friends because we want this child to succeed. No one EVER told him he was smart (he is). They only told him that he was a worthless piece of shit. He's only starting to get willing to admit that he might be worth something. I think he's passing almost everything this year. He wasn't last year and he hardly passed anything the year before. He's capable. He's in my academic decathlon class. That's the class that has the smartest kids in the school. They compete for places on the team, but it's an honor just to get in the class. B* showed up in my art one class and I could tell in about two seconds that he needed to be in decathlon. He told me I was crazy. He told me I was a fool. I told him I could smell smart and he qualified.
I insert here that I've ranted enough that I'm going to post SOME of this on my blog and writer's corner. . . I get that way when I'm pursuing a heartfelt moment. . . Wow Alex, this one belongs to YOU.
I got B* into the class with the team. He's got long hair that he hides behind. I don't think I saw his whole face but maybe three times last year. Another club at the school starts up, the Guitar club. Well B* plays. His decathlon family doesn't mind that he brings his guitar to class. There are days when that's a good thing to have. He bonds with the other "smart" children. He learns that it's a safe place to be smart in. He starts to figure out that he is smart. In this class, he's surrounded with the brightest kids in the school. He's an underperformer who tells everyone that he's going to let them down because he's lazy. They all love him because he's part of the family that the coaches have put together. The coaches pick their new family members for good reason. Not every child will compete, but some children need the environment to "become."
Today, I'm nearing the end of the school year. Things have become very silly, but I'm in the midst of choosing new team members for next year. Some of the rising seniors can't play with us next year, they have other things to do. We have 3 who will be 3rd year seniors and B* is one of them. He's only scrimmaged in the past. He has had issues being eligible to play. We are over our competition season and today I threw out stuff for the continuing members to start looking for. "Look up the voyages of Charles Darwin." I tell them.
Mary is on top of things, she's already found a reading at the local library about our novel for next year. She makes the announcement that we need to meet on June 11th (the week after school gets out) She wants to be captain next year. I think she is well on her way. She knew B* before we brought him on and was hesitant, but then said, "wait, Miss, he is a smart guy. He's lazy and he's crazy. She hemmed and fussed but she welcomed him as a brother. She gives him crap a lot of time, but he knows that it is deserved crap.
So B* says to me "Darwin? Isn't that the evolutionary biology guy?" I doubt this is the kind of conversation that he has with any of his family or friends. "Yeah," I tell him. "The Super Quiz next year is all about evolutionary biology with a focus on Darwin." Super Quiz is the kind of big Quiz Show overriding theme of the competition. B*o's hair has grown longer. He shoves it out of his face and looks me right in the eye and says "Evolutionary biology is interesting."
Score a direct hit Miss School Teacher. We live for moments like this.
That's why I love this kid so much. I can't wait to see him graduate (the first in his family to do so) and to see where he goes from there. I think I'm going to make him the music meister for next year. I made a deal with his counselor to give him credit for the required speech class in my class so that he had room to be in the guitar class. I don't know if this child is bound for college, but he's going to make some mark on the world. I promise that I will get autographed everything from him.
Please excuse me. I get inspired at different times and different ways. I thank you for that.

Everybody say: "Hey B* we want you show the world what YOU can do." I will cross my fingers and say lots of prayers to anyone who listens to prayers that THIS child will succeed.

Forgive me if I have a moment of pride and say "I want this kid to be famous and tell Rolling Stone that his teacher always told him he could be great." He doesn't believe it yet, but he's just a junior. I believe that it takes a village to raise a child (kudos Hillary) and I will chase behind this child with a stick. I will encourage all other villagers to take up the sticks and chase this child into glory. He's got a shot.