Tuesday, September 25, 2012

New School

I feel that I was very fortunate to only have experienced that awkward feeling associated with transferring schools in my sophomore year in college. My path up until then was a pretty straight line, and I have nothing but the stability that my parents offered me as a child to thank for that. I wish I could say the same was true for the kids at the school where I teach.
It is not a bizarre occurrence for a kid at our school to attend for the first few months then, just before Christmas break, announce loudly that their family is relocating in some faraway locale like Stockton. Off they go, with construction paper letters of farewell and attendant files sent along by the front office wishing them success in the next phase of their young lives. Only to bounce back again a couple more months later, after whatever opportunities in Stockton abruptly ended or ceased to exist in the first place. Back again, without a real sense of how the yo-yo experience might affect them down the line.
Then there's the kids who showed up on our campus as a result of their school closing at the end of last year. Never mind the friends they might have made at their old school, or the relationships they had forged with teachers and other adults where they had once felt comfortable and safe. Or as comfortable and safe as kids in urban Oakland ever feel. Now they're confronted with finding their way with a whole new crop of kids and grown-ups. Nobody at their old school told them not to kick the four-square balls. There was no upstairs or downstairs at their old school. Everything was better at their old school. They hate their new school.
At least that's how it has to feel. Sometimes. Until the walls come down a little bit, and the soccer goals at this school are pretty cool. So are some of the kids. It will take time. And patience from all of us.

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