Sunday, May 22, 2011
100 Miles of
Consider this an early entry into Fat Cyclist's 100 Miles of Nowhere
East Harlem High School Division
I work in a true inner-city high school. One that, in a few short years, will cease to exist and will remain only in the memories of the staff and students who came through its doors.
Most of our students come from less than ideal, one might even say, crummy, circumstances. Many of them have only one parent at home. Others have none. Too many of my students need a hug when they come in each day, a pat on the back, a kind word. Too many of them start off life at a disadvantage and, by the time they reach us, catching up is hard to do.
I’ve heard people say that the students in my school can’t do it. That they can’t come back from years and years of lost time. That my students are going Nowhere.
This is what I pondered as I debated whether or not to take part in this year’s 100 Miles of Nowhere. I know that the main purpose of the ride is to raise funds and awareness for cancer research but the idea of going Nowhere just resonated with me as a metaphor for what people say about the students I love.
Too many of my students have been told, repeatedly, that they are going Nowhere. That school is pointless because they are going Nowhere and that they should just give up. And too many of them do give up. Those that don’t, however … they wind up Somewhere. And their kids get a better chance in life.
It is tough working against so much ingrained negativity. But sometimes we get through to them. And when we get through, and the kid that was told they’d go Nowhere winds up Somewhere … well that’s when we realize that all the work was worth it. When the kid you were sure would drop out gives you a hug at graduation … well then you just have to wipe away the tears.
So, in the spirit of getting Somewhere while staying in the same place, I am dedicating my morning commute to my students. For 5.25 miles a day, most week days and a few Saturdays, from now until June 30th I promise to keep my mind on my kids (and a small part of it on the traffic around me) and do my best to figure out how to get them Somewhere. Because everyone deserves to be given the chance to go Somewhere.