Thursday, November 11, 2010

When Kids Have Class

We have ECE students at school. Some of them have severe delays. At our school, we have a special program for students with severe delays and disorders. When I first came to school, this was one thing that I worried about. I had these horrible visions of students being absolute jerks to these kids. I didn't want to have to deal with a student making fun of them or calling them "retards". I really thought it would be an issue.

I couldn't have been more wrong. Today, I was reminded of that fact. We have a freshman who is new to the program at school. She knows a lot of the freshman that I have as she likely was in a program at their middle school. She likes to go out of her way to say hi to them, give them a fist bump or a hug and wave goodbye as she goes to get her breakfast with the rest of her class. She walks right past me while I'm at my morning duty.

One of my students is a class clown. He makes fun of everything and everyone. No one is safe. Most of the time, he's not sure when to actually stop and can sometimes be a bit offensive. He thinks it's his personal job to entertain me while I'm at my morning duty. He was early today and gave his normal running commentary on everyone standing around us.

And then she came by and I held my breath. She smiled very big, said hello to him by name and held up her hand for a fist bump. He returned the bump, said hello to her by name and waved with a big smile as she went off to get her lunch. And then he didn't say a word and went right back to poking fun at me for my current reading habits. I had no reason to worry and I felt guilty afterward. How could I think so lowly of him? He proved me wrong.

That's not the first time our kids have shown that they are made of better stuff than we give them credit. I mentioned it briefly in my rant about The Audit, but last year's prom brought tears to my eyes. Another student from our program was nominated for prom king. Other seniors took it upon themselves to put together signs telling people to vote for him. In the week before prom, you would see huddles of seniors and hear them whispering "Now, we all know that we're voting for [Student's Name] for Prom King, right?" When it came time to announce who had won the title, all of the students at prom gathered around and chanted his name as loud as they could. When he won, the yells were deafening. He got to dance with the beautiful Prom Queen and everyone gave him hugs and high fives.

Sometimes we don't give our students enough credit. Sometimes they pull through and behave in a more mature and compassionate manner than most adults can muster. Sometimes they can amaze us.

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