Inner-city teacher’s life in York, PA–how do you sum it up? I’m going to flip back through my diary and see if we can find anything worthwhile.
9/04/2018–FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL–What a different first day than last year! Probably the most stressful thing was greeting, shaking the hands, and marking the attendance of 50+ students who came through the door in a 15-minute period of time.
9/06/2018–THREE DAYS INTO SCHOOL–Shooter drills and chapel and an hour assessing a 5th-grader with ADHD, TouchMath with Larissa, administering recess games, supervising the alley at lunch, work in the office, crossing-guard duties after school…
Then I’m going door-to-door inviting kids to our Thursday Bible club. At the first house I lean on the porch railing, looking at the trash accumulating around the front door of the abandoned house on the other side of the rail. A girl comes out of the house and says, “You might not want to lean on that.” I suppose it’s because it’s about to fall over, but she points a finger, and I straighten up and look at the railing. Okay, I don’t even want to guess what that substance is. Probably not something I wanted all over my dress either.
The second house is full of yappy dogs. The stench is so overpowering, I can hardly stand in the doorway long enough to talk to the old lady permanently affixed on the couch across the room. The dogs are so loud she can’t here us talking. “Shut up!” she yells at them, over and over. Sorry lady, maybe find a new method, cause yelling ‘shut up’ at your dogs is not working.
Next we meet a sweet lady who moved here recently and won’t let her kids come out of the house because she knows this isn’t a safe neighborhood. She’s so happy to hear about a church and kid’s club where her children can make friends.
At the last house, a guy smoking on his front porch steps looks at me and says…(well, I won’t quote his bit of French, but en effet), “What the heck are you doing here living in this trashy hood?”
“It’s Jesus,” I tell him. “Because he loves us and we want to share his love with others.”
“Makes sense,” his wife said, from her standing position behind him.
But he doesn’t get it.
Sometimes I don’t either. I just know, if it wasn’t for Jesus, I wouldn’t be here.
9/10/18–SECOND WEEK OF SCHOOL–Isaac (my 5th-grader with ADHD) reads the word ‘rip’ in a succession of flashcards and says, “What’s rip?” I make the sound and imitation of a paper ripping. “Oh,” he says, “I thought it means you’re dead.”
9/15/18—I’m coming out of the school with a giant tape measure, on my way to the upper-grade classrooms to measure the tables for the writing class I’ll be teaching this fall. I see a tough-looking, saggy-pants woman come out of a house and cross the street. Funny, the house she’s going into is her house–the house she just left is not. I take a glance at the house she came out of. That house has been condemned ever since it was lit on fire by teen arsonists several years ago. The windows are boarded with huge pieces of plywood, the door blackened with either dirt and grime, or smoke from the fire. So…my dear neighbor, what could you possibly be doing coming out of a condemned house with a shifty look in your eyes?
My imagination runs free. There’s something shady going on in that house–drugs probably. If this was a movie (or I had a daring adventurous boyfriend), I would sneak in through the back to investigate.
As they say in France–C’est la vie! Such is life in York. I have many more snapshots to show you another time.
Thanks for reading! Whether you live in a rough hood or out in the middle of nowhere, please go out and shine the light to someone today. The world is such a dark place, and we have the Light inside us. It’s not for hiding, it’s for giving away.