Sunday, October 02, 2005


One of the sad truths of teaching is that you will teach kids who die.

My second year teaching was the first time I crossed that unfortunate bridge. A young man named Pieter who was in my tenth-grade English class. He was play-fighting with his cousin and it escalated and his cousin stabbed him. The knife hit an artery and Pieter bled to death on his living room couch.

Of course this was in Africa, and if I start adding up all the kids I taught there who have passed away...

Greg Miles was a senior at Simmons High School my first-year in the Mississippi Teacher Corps, 2000-2001. He was shot to death two weeks ago in Nashville. Greg was a nice kid. He played wide-receiver on the football team. He had a beautiful smile. I had to confront him once about his behavior in the hallway but other than that he was a good kid.

No, let me put it this way, he wasn't a bad kid. He wasn't a nasty kid. He wasn't one that you would predict murder for by the age of 21. But as I tell our teachers, "These kids can slip and fall at moment."

As I sit back and think for a minute of all the people at Simmons who have passed away in the last five years I am amazed.

There was Mrs. Lucas, the lunch lady. She checked into the hospital on a Friday and was gone by Tuesday.

Coach Jimmie Williams, of a heart attack.

Two students: one from an asthma attack after a basketball game and an elementary student who was murdered by her step-father.

The cafeteria dishwasher who was shot to death over a drug deal.

That is just off the top of my head. I'm sure there are others that I'm forgetting, or that I don't know of.

When I was growing up I knew two people my own age who passed away: Paul Post, in middle school. He was hit by a car, crossing the street after school. Procter Phelon, the summer after my 11th grade year. He died in a car accident.

In the past five years at Simmons five people who were in the building every day have died. Gone. And that's not counting the new-born babies of some of the students.

And it's not counting the students who graduated.

Like Greg.


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Anonymous said...

Really well said-
And as you know- I knew Greg, Coach Williams, and Mrs. Lucas, too-

Thanks for writing-