.. e that she did not say a word to me about being late. I can honestly say that my best friend Erin always walked into lass with me late and a word was never spoken to us about being late. Mrs. Lightfoot always smiled and treated us like we were there early with our homework out ready to go over it. That was hardly the case and I could never understand why she was so harsh on the boys et so lenient with the girls.
Now, four years later, my brother is in her English class and he told me stories about how she is so hateful to him and his friends who are all male. I told my brother, Matthew, to tell her that he is my little brother and see what kind of response she gets. So, thinking that if he told her that he was the brother of a student she liked a lot she would treat him with a little more respect, he did it only to get a smile from her and then the same mean treatment he had been getting before. I was given well deserved As in that classroom and my brother is given Bs and Cs in that classroom that I feel are not well deserved. I do not feel that her grades reflect the progress that the student makes with the course material. I do, however, feel that her grades are a direct reflection on how she judges the student based on gender and how much she likes them that given day.
Although that is just my personal opinion, I know that many people share that same opinion with me and there are many teachers in our society that act in the same way that Mrs. Lightfoot does. Maybe this is an unintentional behavior that she possesses or maybe it is simply brought about because she was mistreated by men when she was in school. I can not say why she acts like this towards her students but I can say tat it is a bias that she possesses and s very unhealthy for the students to be subjected to. The most interesting book that I read while in class (besides for the Heartland Chronicles J) was Failing At Fairness.
The only connection I have with this book is that I always wondered in History classes where the women were and what role they played in the founding of our nation or simply the founding of anything at all. Although there are many wonderful history stories to be told about women and their contributions to our nation, many history teachers choose the stories about the men thinking that their contributions are of greater importance. To me, that is degrading to all women and there is no way that a young girl can develop the elf esteem she needs to stand tall next to the boys in her class if all she is learning is that men made all the contributions and the women did their laundry. My mother taught me the facts on what women did and I feel that is the reason why I have grown to be a strong woman when faced with men claiming to be more dominant. Girls should not be degraded simply because their women ancestors were over powered by their husbands and forced to do meaningless jobs. Throughout this semester, because of our ALD class, I have developed views that I was not even aware were worthy of beliefs. I was very neutral in most situations and now I am very strong in my newly found morals.
However, I do not feel that this was the best thing that I got out of our course. I was also able to engage in a mentoring program. I worked with a young African-American boy named James who shared many of the same experiences I did when I was his age. Many of the experiences that we have gone through could be quite devastating and have a profound impact on the rest of a young childs life. This is why I am very confident and happy in the fact that I was able to help him when he needed someone and when no one could understand the impact that his experiences had on his life.
Our meetings started out very casual. I was able to mentor in a classroom where the teacher is a friend of our family and for that reason I had a lot of leeway in what I was able to do with James. At the beginning, the teacher informed me that she picked James as my student because we had so many things in common and we could help each other deal with issues in our lives. At that time, I was curious to know what she was talking about but that was all the information that she would give me. My initial thought was how could I possibly have anything in common with a nine-year old African-American boy?.
So, I met with James at least one time every week and we would work on mathematics for thirty minute sessions. He never had a problem with the mathematics problems so I knew that I was dealing with a very bright young man. After our thirty minute sessions of math, we would move into one of the little cubbies in the room and we would just talk about life and things that were going on in our families. When we first started, nothing I would consider major was brought up. He mostly asked questions about college and what things were like playing sports in college.
After a few sessions of small talk, we began to dive into the more important issues. He told me that he did not have many friends and that hr was picked on a lot because he was the new boy. Of course, the first thing that popped into my head at that time was the face of that little boy that was picked on in the park when I was younger. So, I asked him how long he had been at the school and he began to jump into this story about how he moved here to Austin because his father had been transferred and since that move he had been to two elementary schools so he never had enough time to make new friends. From that moment, I knew that we were similar in that way. I can remember my childhood with very little friends, except for the ones I had within my sports organizations. I went to three elementary schools, four middle schools and one high school (luckily).
Now, I never understood why we moved so much but I always liked the attention that a new student got from the teacher. Unfortunately, with that came trying t gain the acceptance of your peers. That was probably the most difficult part of my childhood. Everyone says that real estate is a great investment. No one took that to heart like my mother. She would buy a house, move us in and spend one year fixing it up to twice the value she bought it for and sell it to some family that was looking in that area.
Now, I loved living in all those nice houses and then moving to one tat was twice as nice as the previous but it was so hard when that first Monday came and I had to walk into that classroom full of all those unfamiliar faces looking at me and judging me. When James would talk to me he would tell me about being picked on because he was the new guy and then he would tell me the names they would call him. It was a very familiar feeling when he looked at me with those sad eyes. I chose to not let those comments get to me when I was younger because I was so used to it but I remembered that feeling so vividly when he would look at me with his sad eyes and told me how they would pick on him. It was such a horrible feeling that I knew he felt.
So, we would sit there and talk about everything that happened and what he did to get the children to like him. I told him what I used to that always worked for me. Luckily, he is a very athletic child who runs very fast and can hit a baseball much better than I ever could at that age. I let him know that on the first day I would always wait for recess and the daily physical education class where kick ball and soccer were the highlights. Of course being picked last is the all too common trend for the new student and I expected everyone in that class to imagine me tripping and falling over the ball s they would be surprised to see me hit the game winning grand slam or score the winning goal at crunch time. It never failed! Every day after that I would be one of the two students chosen to pick the teams.
James told me that he was always so nervous so he was the stereotypical new kid tat tripped and fell over the ball. I was so impressed with his mentality though. The way he got the students to like him was, in his opinion, by his skills in the classroom. Students would ask him questions about assignments and he would get to know them and begin playing with them at recess and after school. I thought this child was brilliant.
He got his friends by working hard in class and helping others study. That is a quality that is so awesome for a nine-year old to possess. I noticed that when James would talk about being picked on, he would tell me that his brother used to be there to stand up for him but he wasnt there to do it anymore. Of course, I didnt want to push him to tell me anything that he wasnt comfortable with so he would continue in telling me stories about what he did at recess and what he was going to do for Thanksgiving. Then one day it came. The answer to what I had been asking him in my head so many times was finally said out loud.
Ever since the day he told me that his brother was not there to stand up for him I had been wondering. Out of nowhere James started talking about his brother and how they used to play all the time and he never worried about making friends before because he knew that his big brother would be there to play and make him smile when he got home. So, I got up the nerve to ask him where his brother was and the answer was exactly what I expected it to be. Ames looked at me and I immediately began to see the tears in his eyes build up until the finally poured over his little eye lids. Riding bikes one day, they were rushing home so they could play their Nintendo before they had to eat dinner with the family.
James did not go into great detail about the whole situation but I could guess what happened next. He sat there crying so hard and barely being able to make the words out that his brother was hit by a car just down the street from his house. So, right then I felt this sudden sense of numbness take over every part of my body. I started to feel my eyes water and at that moment I realized why the teacher had gotten me to work with James. My mind drifted back to the worst day of my young life.
It was Mothers Day (of all days) and my sister and I were riding our bikes to the store to buy our mom some candy since we had very little money in our piggy banks due to those selfish needs. On our way home from the store, we were both dreading that climb up the hill just before our house. At the foot of the hill she got in front of me since she was older and stronger than me and could get up the hill with less ease. So, as soon as we got to the foot of the hill I heard the sound that runs through my head every night before I go to sleep. It is hard to describe the sound but it was the sound that you hear when you switch lanes in the road and your tires run over the little white pebbles that sketch out the lanes.
The next thing I knew, my sister was fifty yards away from me and her bike was smashed so unrecognizably that all I recognized was the little pink ribbon coming off of the steering wheel handles. A woman was driving up the hill in the opposite direction and was trying to pick something up off of the floor board when she drifted to the shoulder on the opposite side. The next thing I knew, my sister was lying on the ground motionless with the most dazed look I have ever seen and a constant mumble coming out of her mouth. It took the ambulances less than five minutes to get there and next thing I knew, my mom was by my side crying and screaming and doing all she could to not beat the hell out of the driver who was also standing there crying and trying to control her breathing. My neighbor drove me home and I waited impatiently by the phone for anyone to call and tell me she was alright.
So, the phone call came about three hours later and my aunt called to make sure I was there and I was okay. I immediately asked how my sister was and the only response I got was that she was okay. So, I went on with the evening waiting for the moment my sister would walk in the door with crutches and a cast or something to that extent. Finally, the door opened and my aunt came in saying that she was going to put me in bed and stay with me for a little while. I asked again about my sister and she told me that she would not be coming home.
So confused, I asked why she wouldnt come home and the response I received was full of such an empty, sad look when my aunt looked at me and told me that se had died an hour before. Of course, I had heard the word death before but I had no clue that it brought with it such cold, empty feelings that last for hours at a time that are broken for only a few seconds at a time when thinking about the times spent with the one who was gone. My sister was gone and there was nothing I could do about it except sit and try to have it make sense in my head. So, years go by and the sad times disappear and it is almost inevitable that you hardly ever think about it willingly just because it hurts too much to think about how different your life might be if the one person you loved more than anyone else hadnt died. I know that I did not take the healthy approach to dealing with the death of my sister and it has had horrible effects on my life since then.
James telling me his story took such guts so I knew I needed him to trust that I had experienced something quite similar in my life so I told him about the death of my sister, not in elaborate detail of course. He looked shocked and continued by saying that he had never met anyone who had gone through the same experience. I knew that I would need to talk to him about how to deal with the emotions he would be feeling or else he would go through what I went through, living twelve years full of days with smiles and nights in bed with eyes full of tears. James didnt need to go through that and I could be the one to help him smile about his brothers memory instead of feeling regret and pain. So, every session we would talk about all these wonderful stories about his brother and what he did that was so great and then I would tell an awesome story about my sister and what she would do that was so great.
Sometimes we cried and sometimes we laughed but we always left the sessions feeling better about our siblings. I know that this little boy was helping me deal with issues I had never dealt with before and ignored so much that it began to eat at me every day for over a decade. James was learning how to cherish the time spent with his brother and hold his memories close to him instead of trying his hardest not to think about them. I felt myself getting closer to this child and I knew that he understood me. It is one thing to listen to someone try and tell you how they think you should deal with your problems but it is quite another to see the loss in someone elses eyes and have them express to you the best way to deal with it.
So, from James I learned more than I expected. He made me realize so many things that I should have a long time ago. Along the way, we both grew and the answers to my past were answered in the best way possible. I was finally able to accept that my sister was gone but that while she was here, she influenced my life so dramatically and her death helped me to reach out to a young boy in need of advice on how to deal with something that could have devastating effects on his life if no one would have been able to relate to him. This class has done so many things for me and has helped me grow in so many areas.
I now understand how important it is t teach young children that skin color does not matter and should not be criteria on judging people. Then again, the only criteria for judging people should be the way that they treat you. I was also able to help a young boy in need and give him the guidance that he was lacking in a time when t was necessary. In doing that, I learned to deal with my sisters death but to remember her life and not dwell on the time she has been dead. I now go to bed smiling, knowing that we have figured out the key to our future and I have found the answers to my past.
Before this semester even began, I dont even know if I was looking for these things but I found them, whether by accident or by dumb luck, and I am so happy with the direction my life is going now. I can begin to live for my future and not be stuck in my past. Because of this class, one other boy named James can do the same. Social Issues.