The time is coming… Every career, every life, has an end. Today, I barely made it through my three, hour-and-a-half classes. My lesson had to be cut short and I had to show movies. I can’t breathe. My diabetes lowered my blood sugar to the point that I was unconscious for brief periods of time while students watched Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck. I know… I know… I should’ve called somebody. If I die in my classroom in front of some of my students it is going to traumatize them, some of them severely. Why did I risk it?
One thing is the money. Every day I am absent because of health, it costs me a day’s salary, $330. I need to fulfill my contract for the school year because I need the money I am owed for teaching. I will retire when this year is over… if I survive. I don’t have a choice. And I have earned a full retirement from the Texas Education System. I will not be penniless. That is not the reason I have to keep working. Maybe I should quit tomorrow.
Still, there is work to be done. Critical work. I have the ability to go into a classroom and provide them with what they need most… belief in themselves. They come to me with their own individual stories, their own problems, their own labels.
“I’m a bad kid,” says one. “I get in trouble in every class. I’m every teacher’s nightmare.”
“I’m stupid,” says another. “I fail most of my classes. I can’t learn.”
“I’m ugly and will always be alone,” says the third one. “No one likes me. If I were somebody else, looking at the me I am now, I wouldn’t like me either.”
Those three kids are always there, every class… every day… If I don’t do something, they could give up. They could drop out. They could die. I know for a fact that this is so, because sometimes that is exactly what happens. And if I am teaching that day… at least there is a chance. I have said the right words… sometimes. I have done the right things… sometimes. We do not live in a world without hope. I am not without some power. There are other teachers who do what I do, but they are not plentiful. I am still needed.
But the time is coming… I can’t go on much longer. I’m sorry I am not funny today. I don’t feel much like laughing. But I still have the power to write. I still have the right words. I have to keep telling the story until there is no more.