A Loss And A Memory
This week one of my former students was shot and killed by the police in his hometown, right around the corner from the school.
I don't know why he tried to leave when he was pulled over. I don't know why the policeman felt he needed to shoot him. I don't know the point of entry of the bullet. I don't know why he always slept in my class or why he didn't do a research paper. I do know that he was polite, when I woke him up, when I talked to him about his failing grade. He looked sullen but he was a nice boy. Looking back, I realize that he was probably a candidate for the Student Assistance Counselor or a Student Under the Influence Form. But as a first year teacher what I knew what that he was polite, not a behavior problem, a little unmotivated.
At my first pep rally I looked into the rowdy group in the stands helplessly--wondering how I could intervene while craning my neck, over the bouncing sounds of feet stomping and voices. Like me, a first-year History teacher found this student in the crowd and called out to him, reprovingly. This teacher seemed surprised, as I was, that a nice boy, a quiet and sullen boy, was at the center of a jostling, air horn blowing, silly string shooting crowd.
We looked at this kid. We were first year teachers, we were hopeful and desperate in that mess, and he looked at us and smiled. You can't get me now, he smiled at us. Then he looked away, and didn't look down again.