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Dispatch from an American Classroom: I Wasn't Prepared for Pregnant 12 Year-Olds

I thought I was prepared. I knew the population was very much at-risk. I had no idea.

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I have 17 years of teaching, four previously in middle school.   I am considered at least a very good teacher - on my bad days.  On my good days I am often described as a master teacher.  But I am in a setting unlike any I have ever experienced.  It does not make me a complete novice, but I have to be willing to changed, to learn quickly, to take guidance from others.   The administration knows this, is supportive, and lets me know that.  My assistant principal has told me she is pleased with what she is seeing.   The 7th grade counselor, who is there because she wants to make difference, asked me why I came out of retirement for this job.  I explained the respect I have for the people I knew at the school, and like them I thought it important to try to make a difference in the lives of young people.

Young people - kids, most of whom are 12 years old.  

Whose lives are very different than anything I have ever experienced.

Whose lives and education should be just as important as those in our wealthy suburbs.

I teach less than five miles from our nation's Capitol, in a setting that remains invisible to far too many who make policy based on flawed and incomplete data without ever seeing the reality of the children.

I have never been so stretched, as a person nor as an educator.

And I may have never done anything quite so important.


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