Friday, May 20, 2016

The Cost of Being an Urban Educator

Let me start out by saying, I'm currently an art teacher in a suburban area.  But my first 7 1/2 years were spent in an urban district, and maybe teaching in general (not just in urban environments) is this way, and I'll discover that later? I'm suffering a bit of heartbreak this week.

I taught in an elementary school my first year had a 40% free and reduced lunch population. Seven and a half year later when I left, that number ran up to 90%.  My older children (they're 20 years old now) went to school with me and were the only students out of 330 who paid for breakfast.  After a few months, the cafeteria manager asked me if it would be okay to give them their breakfast free because it was holding up the line and was a bit cumbersome to have mine pay. Students in poverty face many issues, hunger being one, safety being another and just plain old daily stress.  Maybe it's because my own children were friends with all their classmates that this year has been so hard to take.

It's been a rough year in many ways. Several of my former students who are now young adults have done some things (criminal activities, been involved in murders) and fallen victims to circumstances (car accidents, drownings).  This morning I found out that a former student was accidentally shot in the head and killed.  It's wearing me out, and my heart aches for them. And who remembers to tell a former/elementary art teacher?  No one.  It's a sad, sad world when happy smiling faces end up in places they should never be.  It's impossible not to worry about my current students--statistics tell the grim tale that it won't all be positive and happy for everyone.  It just seems like so many of my former students from my urban school are victims or perpetrators of crime, and I want so much more for them.  Big [virtual] hug to all of you who are doing your very best everyday to touch young lives, we all need more positive energy every moment. I could use some myself today.


  1. I am so sorry for your pain. This week I interviewed at a middle school that has 97% free/reduced lunch and some stats that seem similar to the ones you refer to. My heart breaks for these kids and I would be willing to try to make a difference but I think they want someone with experience and that I don't have. I wish you all the positive energy I have to pass on!

  2. Thanks, Kristen! We all just have to keep on keepin' on, I guess. I'll send some positive-job-getting-vibes your way!


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