Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Graduation Redux

I went down to Hollandale this weekend to attend Simmons High School's graduation. Simmons is the school where I taught while I was in Teacher Corps, from 2000-2002. I had planned to teach there in 2003 when Germain offered me this job. It was a hard decision and it still hurts to go back and see the kids and know that I could be there. Simmons is losing its entire English department this year (granted, it is only three teachers). I enjoy my work with the Teacher Corps but I miss the day-to-day reward of working with kids.

I didn't teach any of the kids graduating (only 26) but I coached a few of them in basketball. I probably wouldn't have gone except Rich Dimmack, who was in the Corps at Simmons, came down to attend. He taught all the kids both in ninth and tenth grade so they were happy to see him. We had a great time driving around, talking with friends, kids, and parents. Many of the kids I taught have moved to Memphis, Atlanta, or Texas.

Highlights included seeing Brandy Howard and Stephanie Swint. Brandy just finished her Sophomore year at Mississippi State as a premed major. Stephanie just completed her Junior year at State. They were two of my favorite and best students. Stephanie will be in Oxford this summer taking classes at Ole Miss so hopefully I'll be able to arrange for her to work part-time with Teacher Corps. It is rewarding to see students that I taught doing well in college.

Rich and I also stopped by to see the mother of one of our favorite students, Jeremy Smith. Jeremy was a senior during our first year at Simmons. Rich taught him and I coached him in basketball. He is a tough kid who excels in trash-talking (think Mouse in the movie "Devil in a Blue Dress"). He is now over in Iraq. We talked to his mom and she showed us photos he had taken. There are about ten students that I taught who are in Iraq or Afghanistan right now. One of the many things I learned teaching in Hollandale is that when the US goes to war it is the poor black, white, and Latino kids who go.

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