I was going to bring Teddy to the homeless shelter where I was to tutor a sixth grade girl in reading comprehension. Ted did not want to get out of bed so early, so I left without him. I also wasn’t sure of the rules when it came to visiting transition shelters like the one I went to in Roxbury, so I thought it was better to leave him behind.
When I first met my student, she was tired and shy. By the time I left, we were all on the floor coloring and putting stickers on each other. Never have two hours passed so quickly in all of my life. I did NOT want to leave.
KD’s school hired me to provide her with two hours of tutoring in reading. I went to the Library ahead of time to buy some used books for her. Here she is writing her name in the books so her brother and sister don’t take them from her:
I wish I could have stayed longer. I wish I thought to bring them more snacks to eat. I wish I could do more for them than I did.
I taught KD how to annotate a text. I taught her the meaning of ‘alliteration’. I taught her her the meaning of ‘personification’. I taught her the importance of word choice to an author’s meaning. I taught her that tutors can be fun. I taught her that tutors can get on the floor and color and eat popcorn.
However, she taught me MANY more things that day. She taught me that it’s possible to be happy in a hopeless (and homeless) situation. She taught me to be grateful for all that I have. She taught me that a person can be happy with so very little. She taught me to have hope. She taught me that I would be happy teaching in a system where so many students have so little access to resources. She taught me that I could make a difference.
Her little brother, Spiderman, was an absolute JOY! Even though he liked to annoy his sister (what brother doesn’t?), the bond between them was palpable. He was showing off by doing cartwheels in the living room while his sister and I read the first chapter of Ellie’s Story by W. Bruce Cameron, and she annotated the text because it was her very own book that I brought for her.
He said he couldn’t read yet. I want to go back and teach him. I must find a way. How can anyone resist this face?
That’s what I thought. No one can. His eyes show sparks of joy, innocence, happiness and kindness all at the same time.
Ted is going to come with me next time. There’s a spot on the couch for him right next to the kids. Mom said it was okay to bring him.
I pray that their family gets the new start they deserve. I pray that the resources come through. I pray that there are no more complications for them. And I pray for their continued happiness in spite of their challenging circumstances.
A very grateful,