A beautiful thing happened today.
This morning at breakfast, I stopped to talk with another English teacher about the journalism staff. There were quite a lot of applicants for the staff this year, and there was a particular kid I wanted to recommend. Well, sort of recommend. Dee is one of my “potential” kids, but he was also in my heinous fourth period class last semester. And yes, he hangs with our friend Pimp. Therein lies the problem.
Dee is bright and quick. He can be mature and hardworking. When he gets around trouble kids, however, he is very susceptible to peer pressure. Pimp’s influence last semester got Dee so off-track at the end of the semester that he didn’t manage to complete a whole research paper. I couldn’t recommend him for honors, although I had been grooming him all semester and he was willing to move up, and so the cycle continues.
This semester, Dee has my mentor teacher for English, and she is having the same issues--which, I might add, is a little comforting. She’s had the same conversation with him about moving to honors and watches in disappointment as Dee slowly begins to follow the trouble-kid in her class both in behavior and grade point average. Watching Dee in the library last week, we shared our mutual frustration and shook our heads.
Then I saw Dee’s name on the list of journalism applicants. First, I was very surprised he even applied. It’s a pretty white kid, honors kid thing to do. Second, I got all hopeful. Being on the staff would be so good for him--not to be around white, honors kids per se, but to be around motivated, college-bound achievers. Peer pressure can be a beautiful thing when applied for the right reason. So, I spoke to the journalism teacher about Dee.
Dee maybe isn’t as accomplished or as talented at writing as the other applicants, but it would be so good for him. Is that a legitimate reason to put him on the staff when there are more qualified applicants? Does it matter that Dee is black and the staff usually lacks, uh, flavor? Might he be valuable to the staff solely because he could add another perspective--could provide a link between the, seemingly, two schools that I teach at, the black and the white, the have and the have not? Could I possibly be far too hopeful about the difference that one success story could make to the culture of my school?
And no...(to be continued after 80 essays are graded or after mid-term grades are turned in Monday morning, whichever comes first. sigh.)