Tag Archives: Contributor

School’s Out. . . For Summer!

Yeah, dudes. Today is the last day of school for students and teachers who are part of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School system.

Which means that Hyper Lad and I are free for the next couple of months.

Well, really, Hyper Lad is free. I’m just sad.

As you might remember, I’ve been working as a Title I Tutor at Awesome Elementary here in Charlotte for the past almost complete school year. And, honestly, I don’t remember when I’ve had a more fun work year.

It was a treat, a joy, an appallingly wonderful experience to interact with these little dudes and dudettes, their teachers and the school in general during this school year. I really had a hard time holding it together over the last week or so as I considered that this might be the last time I see some of them.

The deal is that the funding for my job is from a federal source, which means it’s not the most stable source around. It could have been offset by the state, but it’s cutting more than 400 teacher assistant and tutor positions around the state in the coming school year. Personally, I think that’s extremely short-sighted. They’re exchanging a happier future for a slightly more solvent present, all so they can avoid making the hard choices like antagonizing their major campaign contributors by making the rich pay their fair share.

I’ll get down off my soapbox now. Sorry.

Anyway.

With the funding for my position gone, so am I. Which means I won’t be around to watch as the younger kids keep growing and learning and turning into young men and young women. I won’t get to watch the fourth-graders prepare themselves to become middle schoolers.

I enjoyed working with all of these students, but there are a few that will remain my favorite. These are kids who really worked hard, who had a spark in their eyes, who loved to learn, or learned to love it. These are the kids who had to overcome even more obstacles than did most of the kids at this mostly-poor school.

I watched them overcome so much, and helped as much as I could. And now I’ll not get to see them as they keep working and keep growing.

Oh, I will be back at least a little bit. I mean, I just can’t go cold turkey. But I’ll only be there as a volunteer and not there as a worker or someone who sees them everyday.

Still, I can’t thank the teachers, students and administrators from Awesome Elementary (known in it’s more everyday guise as Huntingtowne Farms Elementary School). I really feel like I should have been paying them over the course of the year. I’ve come to care about them more than I ever thought possible. Come to depend on seeing their smiles and hearing their voices.

And, for me, as of today, they’ll all be gone.

I don’t pretend that any of them will really miss me, or wonder all that much about me come next year, but they will be on my mind. Dwelling in the small space they dug for themselves deep in my heart.

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Talking Trauma With Kids

As human beings, it seems we want to put off having talks about uncomfortable subjects for as long as possible.

I’m not sure it’s possible to put off talking about Sandy Hook elementary school for much longer. When I was at Amazing Elementary School, where I work as a tutor, on Monday, there was a lot of talk about the appalling events of Friday, when a sick man walked into an elementary school and killed 20 students, six teachers and staff and then died himself. This after having already killed his mother in the Newtown, Connecticut home they share.

The talk I was hearing didn’t come only from the teachers, worried about their young charges. The students had also heard about what happened.

I was asked several times what I knew about the incident, as if because I was an adult, I would know all there was to know about, well, everything. Yeah, elementary schoolers are still in that trusting phase. Which makes what happened at Sandy Hook all the worse.

Still, dudes, I think it’s something we need to discuss with our young dudes and dudettes. I know I want my kids to hear about my interpretation of what happened.

These kinds of things, no matter horrific and terrible they are, really are rare. Not rare enough, of course, but they’re not something that happens very often.

I want my kids to know, in general, what they need to do if something like this happens in their school. Hiding or running away from the crazy with the gun is a much better idea than running toward.

It’s the talks like this with younger kids, though, that will take the most effort on the part of parents to make sure they understand. They’re going to be completely weirded out that someone would kill kids their own age. The most important thing you can do, according to experts, is remain calm.

If you’re freaking out about the whole thing, there’s no way the kid will hear anything but your fear.

“You want to do it in an open-ended calm way, ‘this happened,’ ” said psychiatrist and NBC TODAY contributor Dr. Gail Saltzon on Saturday. “But stay calm, because children take their cues from you. If you’re hysterical, they won’t even hear the information, they’ll hear your emotion. You want to be listening to what they are concerned about.”

Be honest, “but don’t over-inform about details.”

No one is expecting you to know everything or be able to guarantee your child perfect safety from the scum-sucking weasels of the world, but you can be there to listen to your child.

Talk to her, give him reassurance. You can offer them love and arms to hug. Give them information about what happened, but don’t put adult fear into young lives. They get enough of that from the real world already.

— Richard

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