Three years ago, a tenth grader I taught in a geometry class told me I knew nothing about hardship. I attended a private high school, lived in a two-story house and flitted through my after-school activities.
Little Serena had never stayed in one school for over four months, had never held a basketball or heard of geometry. She shouted back defiantly at me one day when I berated her for falling behind in my class. “You go too fast,” she said. “You teach for you, not me.”
We began a private tutoring session, and I soon learned so much more than I could have taught her in those five 45 minute sessions. I talked triangles and degrees, and she talked about her life. She had four younger siblings and a father who drank. At home she had to stay alert, which meant a less active mind in school. I learned about her strong mind when she caught up to the class, and my own faults when she surpassed it.
I realized that summer that there are always things you don’t know. You don’t know how a little girl could carry so much on her shoulders. You don’t know the hardships a woman walking by you on the street has endured. You don’t know what life someone surrendered to sit next to you in class, or visit our campus.
Unless you listen. So here are some of their stories.
Blog Managing Editor