I did my student teaching in an upper-middle class neighborhood school. It was unique because it was an open-concept school. I guess that is when my interest in finding "other" ways to educate was sparked.
Then we moved to Ft Worth and I applied all over the city. I don't think then I even knew what "inner-city" meant. I was hired, and started at a school that was on the edge of an established neighborhood and the projects. I walked into that first classroom and had no idea what I was doing. Luckily Cheryl Wisch was right next door. She shaped me more than any professor I ever had. I learned more from her that first year than all the years after! The very first day I had completed the whole day's lesson plan by 10:00 a.m.! Yes, I had a lot to learn!
My second year of teaching, I saw the neighborhood deserted and my classroom become a revolving door. I started the year with 22 children and I ended the year with 22 children. But only 4 children had been with me the entire year. FOUR! I watched as children held up their shirts and showed me the blood from being whipped by extension cords. I cried as I called social services time and time again. I watched as children were taken from their homes. I waited for children who never showed up again because their families had skipped out in the night. I endured being cussed out by parents because I had taken their child's dinner money, two quarters. I sat with children left out in the cold on the last day before Thanksgiving, being forgotten by a mother who was working a double shift at the strip club. I accepted the gift of cat's collar still warm from the body of the cat. "Hear that beautiful sound, Ms. Mckenzie?" I listened and cried as that huge smile beamed while the hand shook the bell attached to the collar. Okay, and I chuckled cause they never did get my name right!! :-) I watched, I changed, I wept.
So, I opened my heart and was forever changed....and that was just the first two years.
to be continued