I am drowning. A dark, suffocating mass and grasping for air. A strange sensation of something sucking, not in a maternal life-force way, but something eclipsing and invasive, like a vacuum.
Yesterday Big Brother stopped by to harass me because I hadn’t turned in the signed appraisal. He had been assigned to me even though he knew nothing about the IB Programme and was therefore clueless about my class, what we were doing when he arrived for the Judgment. Even though I have been busting my arse for these kids, and due to his graduated mediocrity, he marked me “proficient” on all but one, and spoke to me with an admonishing tone about his observations. He’s accustomed to the dog and pony show of noise but no action, kids making collages without meaning, without learning, the abyss of survival only.
One part he marked less than proficient. A first for me. I had thrown away some documents in the so-called teacher’s lounge which were suspiciously “found” and reported to Big Brother. It was an honest, sincere mistake, but Big Brother, being the cynical bastard he is, didn’t give me the benefit of the doubt. Note: never throw anything away in the teacher’s lounge. Apparently, the Invisible Enforcers see fit to rummage through the trash if for the report of your Doom.
But also shines this beginning, already stretching its reach and taking hold. I am being shaken and simultaneously lit up.
I will be teaching 7th grade science at KIPP. This is a radical change, as I have been an English teacher my entire career. I am writer not a scientist, but adventure I love. And my journey begins sooner than I thought. I will begin teaching the summer session, which means I don’t get to spend the entire month of June traveling with my husband as I had planned, but also my life as a KIPP teacher will much sooner alight, and to fly is to be free, so I am adjusting. For the first time in my life, prioritizing over indulgence. Not the first time, but there’s something uniquely significant about my purposeful attitude. I have no regrets.
To translate my idyllic hopes (i.e. teach kids from the ghetto to be leaders and dreamers) and to literally – literally – change their lives is here afoot. This, I’ve never hiked to any tangible satisfactory degree, but to the possibility I will smile: my job as a teacher has most unexpectedly taken a form and movement, and I am going to allow myself to be transfered, transformed. At last, the shimmering, distanced fragrance of hope.
Maybe American public education isn’t a complete failure, the ultimate of all let-downs.
I hope KIPP makes a believer out of me.