"A teacher affects eternity, he can never tell where his influence stops." Henry Brooks Adams

Sunday, May 9, 2010

A Boy We Knew

Again we found ourselves at a funeral that happened much too soon. One of our former students (only 19), and brother to children still in our school, was brutally shot and killed last week. We can go over and over this, and we will never find an answer. This young man with a huge smile was a promising student, a good athlete, a happy and sunny boy--a kid universally liked by his teachers. He worked hard, tried to do right, and was a good big brother. Those of us who taught him in seventh and eighth grade could no more believe this happened to him than we could believe we'll fly to the moon tomorrow. But it did happen, and who is there to blame?? A culture that glorifies guns and denigrates hard work, that glorifies "gangsta" life (such as it is) leads to the death of too many young black men. Some buy into this mythical, destructive culture, and some are just caught up in the peripheral violence. None of them deserve to die this young--leaving behind more sorrow than they could imagine. What can we at schools do to stop this? I truly despair of finding an answer. We give kids a safe haven all day and an education--but sometimes they still have to go home to communities that have too many guns and not enough jobs. Many of us like to think these are not "our" problems, but ultimately they are. A community robbed of its most precious resource--its young--is a community in crisis. This crisis needs to be stopped by ALL of us--starting with the members of the community and moving outward to envelop and involve all of us.