Lisa - Cicero
Entered on August 7, 2008

This I believe

I believe there is good in every child. I know that sounds crazy, but in my 18 years of education, there are many examples that tell me this true. I was teaching first grade in a school whose neighborhood was labeled as one of the poorest in the nation. There was a young man that year that stood out from the others. He had trouble keeping himself in control in situations outside the classroom, but I had no issues in class. He worked hard for me, he helped me in the room, and he loved to read and would draw these beautiful pictures. Unfortunately, after he drew them, he would take a black or red crayon and scribble with such force and determination, until the paper ripped. When I asked him, “Why did you do that?” He would say, “I don’t know”, shrug his shoulders and smile. After a few months of school this happened less frequently. However, he started calling me at home. The odd thing is this young man would call me, say hello, tell me he was home alone with his older brother, and hang up. Maybe he was nervous? After all he was calling his teacher on the phone, he was only 7, and what could we possibly have to talk about. As our school year progressed he blossomed to the point that he would show his pictures to the class, read the accompanying stories aloud and was even behaving better during transitions. Alas, the phone calls continued, same dialogue, and then the hang up. One day his father appeared at my classroom door. The look of concern on his face immediately hit me in the gut. It was at this point I learned that his older brother was sexually molesting him. This young man had been giving me all the signs, and I missed it. The dark colored scribbles and the phone calls were now so obvious! A year or two after that incident his behavior became violent, and the young man was placed in an alternative school and labeled emotionally disturbed. I took a different job in a suburban district, remarried and moved. Several years later, at a local music and food festival in the city, a man came up to me and said hello in my maiden name. I looked into his eyes and knew who it was. He hugged me and said you were the best teacher I ever had! We spoke for while and he went on his way. He had graduated high school, was de- labeled, and was doing well. I haven’t seen that young man since that day but he had every reason to be angry at the world for what happened to him. Instead, he turned himself around. For this I believe, there is good in every child- even when it’s hard to find.