In our family...

In our family....we do second chances...we do grace...we do real...we do mistakes...we do I'm sorry (and I forgive you)...we do loud really well...we do hugs...we do family...we do love.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

My passion in life

I have mentioned here before that I work at an alternative high school, running the daycare. The students who attend this school, attend for various reasons, such as my young moms who need someone to care for their children while they attend classes or they also have to work full or part time and our school enables them to do both. But, much of the time, it is because they got kicked out of the regular high school for one reason or another or they fit better at our type of school then a regular high school.

Many of these teenagers are what a lot of people would call “misfits”, “problem” children or “juveniles”. Many of these young people already have probation officers. Some are in trouble with the law and are awaiting court hearings and fear going to jail or being sent away. Our students come from all social, economic, and ethnic backgrounds, so we have an interesting mix of students. We have students that come from quite wealthy and high on the social ladder type of families, to those that are practically homeless and have no family. Most of our students fall somewhere between these two groups. The one thing that most of the students have in common is that our school is their last chance or only chance of getting a high school diploma, because they have burnt their bridges else where or like my young mom’s, they have no other choice because of having a child.

Since our school is small, we can meet more of their needs, and they get a lot individual attention. Our school is kind of like a family and for some of our students we are the only family they have. The teachers and staff that I work with, all have a love for these types of kids and are very dedicated to reaching these “lost” children, that come through the doors. Some of them are recovering alcoholics and former drug users themselves and all of them have been teaching for a long time. I have so much respect for them, as they, not only are good with the students, they make less money working at our school.

The main goal of our school is to see these kids graduate and then go on for more schooling or work at a job that they can survive on. Much of the time this does happen but sadly, some even lose their chance to attend our school. While they attend our school, the goal is to empower these young people to make better choices and to equip them for life. Many of our students also work part or full time jobs, mostly out of necessity. This is possible because our school operates at all times of the day.

Working at a school like this is very rewarding, yet sometimes it is heart breaking for me. Many of the students are needy and lack self esteem and they are like sponges in wanting and needing to suck up any attention or love they can get. Many drink alcohol, use drugs, are sexually active, cut themselves and partake in activities that are dangerous. They cry out for attention and they will do anything to get it, even if it’s negative. These are the kids who have fallen through the cracks. They are starving for something more. And we try to give it to them and at the same time, teach them how to get something more for themselves.

At least a couple times a week, I have a student tell me they want to come home with me or that they wish that I was their mother. As much as that might be a compliment to me, it makes me sad that they feel this way. It’s hard to believe they feel this way since they know I am a pretty tough parent and would not put up with their crap. They know they can’t pull the wool over my eyes like they can with some people, because they know I have walked in their shoes or at least shoes, close to theirs. The thing is I see a part of myself or I should say the young person I was, in just about every one of them. They talk to me and tell me things that you hope to never hear from a child…things that they think are normal but aren’t. Sometimes, I have to report these situations to social services since I am a mandated reporter. This is hard, because they trust me, but I always want them to know that they can trust me to do the right thing, which isn’t always what they realize is the right thing.

I think these young people need to know that they matter, that someone hears them and that someone cares about them. They need to know that they can care for other’s too and that it will be accepted. Since I bring my little people with me to work everyday, my little people are well known and well loved by everyone. They are actually called our school’s mascot’s, because everyone that comes to school to work or as a student, knows that they will be greeted by two smiling children every day. The beautiful thing about children is that they don’t discriminate in who they choose to love and care for. My little people show love and care to every single one of these young people, no matter how tough or rough they look on the outside. I have watched with my own eye’s as they have melted the heart’s of those with even the toughest of exteriors. These young people come to school every day expecting a huge smile and hug from my little people. In turn, my little people expect it too.

To be perfectly honest, there are days that these young people drive me crazy. They frustrate me and can suck the life out of me if I’m not careful. Every day that I drive away from the school, I have to leave it all behind. I can not bring it home with me or it would break me. There are day’s I come home exhausted and with my heart broken over their situations and wanting to do more. Some days I think about doing something else, but,it’s my love and passion for young people, that keeps me going back.

Do you love what you do? Are you doing what you always wanted to do with your life? What gives you the drive to keep doing what you do every day? Do you ever want to change jobs? Do you ever think about doing something different? What is your passion in life and is this passion a part of your life?


D'Arcy said...

SOOOO much of this resonates with me, as you know. I've taught at similar schools, I've had kids go into labor, I've had kids come to class high on pot, i've had just about everything. It's hard, it stays with you, I have FINALLLY learned to leave it at school. I am doing something I feel SO passionate about though. What is better than to help people? What is better than to make a difference, no matter how small, in someone's life? What is better than to show these kids that there is so much MORE to life, and being passionate about something is an AMAZING start!!!!

Seriously, while it is SO hard to read about these students it makes me SO happy that you have contact with them and that they get to interact with you and your loving little ones each day.

Keep at it friend, it's hard, it's draining, it's exhausting, but so many small things make it worth it!!!

Dorothy said...

I've been thinking the same thing and wondering what I'd change.. I even wrote about it on grammology....I've made some strides however not enough to say I know to this moment for sure if I even have a passion. So I continue to ponder...glad to know there are some people who know.

My best, Dorothy from grammology

Smart Mouth Broad said...

It's a great thing that you do there and the kids are so fortunate to have you. I have a great job and know that I am able to help people. That is important to me. But passion, I don't think I can claim that about my job. I'm happy that you can though.

SSG said...

great post, it's great you have a job you love, that can make a difference, and makes you want to get up in the morning. Respect for the job you do.

SciFi Dad said...

Great post.

Honestly? I hate what I do. I'm in it for a whole host of the wrong reasons (it's the field my father chose, not me; money; etc).

But bottom line, it pays me well. Well enough that my wife doesn't have to work and can be a SAHM like she wants. That's what keeps me going.

Midlife Slices said...

I admire you for what you are doing and that you are passionate enough to help these young people. I'm not passionate about my job and consider it just that.....a job. I know that's bad and I should do something else but it's hard to teach an old dog new tricks.

thistle said...

Altho i enjoy my job and my clients,i will confess that i don't feel passion for it...i look forward more to the work i do after school with the Special Olympics program i recently started coaching in, and the Developing Abilities riding program i help with...THAT is what i really enjoy. Many of my clients are personality disordered (often the adult versions of the ones you deal with), which makes some of them downright unpleasant to deal with...and i don't see so much of that with the kids in the riding program nor the athletes in the Special Olympics group...they are what they are...and so refreshing to be around. And i enjoy that so much more...

Laura said...

I ended up in my current job, teaching high school, because I got laid off from one job in the high-tech bust, couldn't find a job in the field I got my master's degree in, so viola--teacher. But I do love it, maybe because I had no expecations, for my students or myself. But my passion, my passion is getting the ideas in my head into words and phrases on paper (electronic or otherwise).

Joanne said...

It sounds like these kids where you work are lucky to have you there, you make a difference in their lives. When you're living your passion, I think you reach people in a different way. Interesting post, I enjoyed browsing here.

MGM said...

I so totally relate to this post, having provided psychotherapy individually and for groups as large as 10 at a time at the teen girls' group home where I practiced for 3 years.

My path has shifted a bit now. This decision may have been influenced more by the young lady who was my client (and who completed suicide last summer) than I consciously acknowledge. I no longer work with this profile of young person on such an intense level, but I was at the group home for a visit the other day, and the girls flocked to me.

So bitter sweet.

I actually miss it as much as I feel relief to not be in the midst of it anymore.

Incidentally, I love what I do. Not a day goes by that I have not been absolutely positive that this is something God has called me to. It had to have been Him who brought me here, because otherwise, I am positively certain that I would never have gotten here at all. And I most certainly would not have the energy to return to it week after week.

swampy said...

WEll, you got me with that header...what a cute itty bitty smilin' bundle of joy being cradled there on top...Love all the photos down the side bar...will have to come back to "meet" all of them. I'm sure there are posts of the past describing them.
As for your story today, it touched my heart, as it has with all your readers.
My teaching career of 25 years was mostly in the middle school, and I do remember the tug at my heart when one of my students would ask to go home with me, and say, "I wish you were my mother."
My guess is that we both felt the very same way.
I'm sure you make a difference in many of their lives. Keep on keepin' on.

Thanks for the visit the other day. I'll certainly be back to read more.

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

Wow, the way you write about your work with these kids goes right to my heart. I used to work in an ALC and it can be draining for all the reasons you mention. But also that muchmore rewarding.

I know I'm lucky in that I enjoy my job and love what I do when I get there. But I acually love being home even more. If I made money off my writing, I'd be home full time.

Tricia said...

Even with all the difficulties, and obviously there are many, I'm so glad you find the pleasure in what you do for these children. It's an amazing opportunity for everyone to gain something. It takes special people with special hearts to work in difficult environments with children, that's for sure!

Some days I love what I do and yes it includes my passion, but I don't love it every day.