I have a scholar, who by many accounts, is a handful. We have a structured school where we create systems for every component of our school day. There is a particular way that our scholars walk down the hallway, enter the class, and exit the class. There is a specific way they sit at their desk and even sit the carpet. He struggles greatly with following many of simple rules and expectations. He did not start the year with us, but at this point, he has been at my school more days than he hasn’t. I typically call his mother every day sometimes even multiple times a day. As much as he breaks many of our school rules and disrupts the learning environment, he should be suspended just about every day. His mom has expressed, on many occasions, how difficult he is at home and how she is running out of options. We have tried just about every approach and strategy to get him to comply and follow the rules and expectations. None have worked thus far.
On one particular day, I called mom to come in and check on him. She came in as we asked, and she saw the same behaviors that we had told her. She decided that day to take him and talk to him. After talking to him, she asked me a question that made me pause. She asked, “Why do Care So Much?” I paused before answering.
Why wouldn’t I care? It was my job to care. I had to care about his education and about his ability to adapt to a new environment. He needed to receive the same love and opportunities the other 274 scholars in the school need and deserve. I saw him as a typical kid who just needed a little more TLC (Tender Loving Care). I never really thought about caring because, with me, it came with the job. I believe every teacher and educator has an obligation to care for the children they educate. We selected this career path because we believe all kids, regardless of any circumstance, deserve the right to receive a high-quality education that would unlock the gate to their future.
Why do I care? I have to care because if not me, then who? If I don’t care, who will have the patience? If I don’t teach him scholarly behavior, who will? How could I turn my back on a child who needs more support? I have to care because I want him and all the scholars in my school to succeed. I am 100% invested in his future. For me, education is about 100% of the kids, 100% of the time. No matter what, all scholars need to know when they come to school their teachers and the other adults in the building will not let up until they have what they need to reach their goals.
Being an educator is not just a job, but it is my life’s work. Being an educator is my legacy and what I want to be remembered. I care because this is my life’s purpose, and it’s my gift from God that I must share with the world.
Juanita Price, a second-year Kindergarten teacher says, “This is a state of emergency. Why don’t more teachers care that the failing students of our education system are reflections of our future?”
So, after my pause, I laid it out to mom in the most honest way that I could.
I care so much because I have to care. I am supposed to care. I did not choose this path just because I cared about education as a whole; I got into this because I care about the education of the children that I will encounter on this journey. I believe that my work today will have a lasting impact on my students that I may or may not see later down the road. I care this much because I am one of the gatekeepers to the future for our children. I take this seriously, and I must educate and prepare them for what comes next. Honestly, mom, your son represents the future. He has strikes already, one for being black and the other for being a boy. See, in his life, he will have to be twice as good to probably only get half as far in the world. I have to care for him. Also, your son is five, and he is kindergarten. He will most likely grow out of all this. Until then, he deserves to come to school this new big and exciting new environment and see and feel the care of an adult.
In words of Rita Pierson, “Every child deserves a champion.”
That is why I care so much. As long as he is here and under my watch, I will always care.