Sunday, November 05, 2006

The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

This post is just to give readers a realistic idea of the experiences of a teacher in Jackson Public Schools. I teach at Wingfield High in South Jackson, a school that has, according to others, changed drastically in the last several years. While I'll try to remain unbiased, here is an account of some of the events of the past three weeks that may seem a bit negative:
The Good
-we are starting a Sigma Beta Club. This is a younger brotherhood that my fraternity (Phi Beta Sigma) started in order to push community service, scholarship, and other positive ideas. I think this will have a big impact on several of my students.
-I got a Mexican student this week. He speaks very little English; this has motivated many of my students to learn Spanish. As for the new student, I will probably end up conducting the Spanish class in reverse for him (I will test for his knowledge of English terms).
-I've been making parent calls. For some students, this is really making a difference.
-I've sent letters home. Even if the letters don't make it home, some of the students are paying more attention to the fact that they are failing.
-Students are beginning to come to tutoring.
-Our administration seems pretty strong. For example, they usually suspend students for being late to class.
Now, for the Bad and Ugly
-a student was arrested for being in a stolen car.(off campus incident)
-the police arrested people at school two days in a row for fighting. Ambulances were also called both days (a student got hurt resisting arrest, and an officer got hurt in pursuit).
-there were about 6 fights in a 2-3 day period.
-a teacher was punched in the face.
-a teacher was hit in the face with an orange the next day.
-two students got felony drug charges after they were arrested for drinking beer in the parking lot at school.
-police (about 4-5 cars) are now at school at the beginning and end of everyday.
-a student defecated in the hall (yes, I'm serious). He then ran home.
- a student was seen hanging from a 2nd floor window over concrete. The student didn't fall.

Well, I hope this provides a picture of my experiences as a teacher in JPS. I definitely see what Sarah Degraaf went through at this school last year. While people have historically talked about West Side schools (Lanier and Provine), it appears that Wingfield is also battling some problems.

Thoughts on Quitting

We were asked about any thoughts of quitting we might have had during the first year. Personally, this has been an issue that I only entertained to a certain extent. When we signed up for MTC, we didn't sign up to benefit ourselves (hopefully everyone feels that way). Because we signed up to benefit others, thoughts of quitting always seemed like they would hurt others to me. We took up spots in a program that could have easily selected qualified people to fulfill the two year commitment. To me, the program (and agreement to teach 2 yrs) was a promise we made. Now while I've quit other programs that would have benefited me, I don't think I could seriously consider quitting MTC. Sure, I got frustrated with the classwork for Ole Miss and the issues I saw at the schools, but quitting clearly would not have been in the best interest of my students. I once had a coach at a basketball camp tell us, "If you sign up for something saying you're gonna be there, be there." That definitely applies here because we made a promise, one that we should all keep. I would never criticize those who have chosen to leave the program for different reasons, but I feel like except in the case of a serious emergency, I personally would never quit.