My students are the light of my life. I love each and every one of them, and they are showing me each day how stereotypes that I and every other person in the country have made about inner city kids is completely wrong. I have two stories that I want to share, about how some students are really rising to the occasion and proving the achievement gap and everyone else wrong.

DP and DW are known members of a gang, the Vice Lords. They miss a lot of school and each of them have gotten themselves a lot of suspensions for various things. DW got in a huge fight in my classroom this fall, and it scared the bajesus out of me. I’m not going to like, I thought that DP and DW were a little bit of lost causes. I thought I had tried everything, but that’s not true. I told all of my students that had failed last nine weeks, including DP and DW, that if they came to tutoring after school and made up the work that they had missed last nine weeks, that I would change their grade accordingly. And God bless them, DP and DW have been coming in, every tutoring day, until 5, 5:30, to make up their work. They do care. They aren’t lost causes, and they are proving that even inner city gang members CARE about their education and WANT to do well. I love it.

Another one of my students, MB, isn’t in a gang, but he does have a little behavioral problem. MB reads on a first grade reading level, and until this nine weeks, hasn’t shown much effort in his work. However, his mom recently told him that if he got his grades up, he could get a job. The boy has an 84 in my class, and the effort he has been showing recently is OUTSTANDING. He had finished his work early yesterday, and so I let him get on the computer. Usually when he finishes his work, he gets on YouTube and listens to rap music. However, I was circulating as the other kids were finishing their quiz when I looked over. MB was on the Reading Plus (a remedial reading program that my school does), doing a lesson. NO ONE HAD TOLD HIM TO DO IT. I went over and asked him if Dr. Terre, the Reading Plus teacher, had asked him to do that. And he said no, he just wanted to get better at reading. He got 70% comprehension on the program, and I heard him reading outloud to himself.

These three students are why I do what I do. I can’t believe that I almost gave up on them. Thank God I didn’t, because they are proving me and everyone else wrong.