“I’ve got six screws in this hand because a child broke it swinging at me in anger.”
She stared at her hand – not with anger, not with pride. With pity.
“My wound healed. These kids wounds… they hardly ever get healed.”
“She” was a teacher at Hope Street Academy. I was getting a tour, meeting the staff. Our church has added them to our BackSnacks program. (BackSnacks is a partnership with Harvesters.org where we send backpacks of food home with needy kids.)
Hope Street Elementary is the last stop before juvenile detention or home school or whatever. The high school side has kids that either got really behind, can’t handle the big school, got pregnant. The elementary side gets kids that can’t function in a normal classroom because they are either a danger to themselves or their peers.
And it’s actually on Hope Street.
“Every now and then, we’ll have a kid throw desks, pencils. Or run. It’s never a boring day.”
Every teacher here has a scar, story, or bruise from a kid going off the deep end. Every teacher here wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. Don’t like your teacher’s lounge microwave or not having any windows in your room? Try having to play dodgedesk with your students.
I’m baffled by these teachers. There is a tough as steel/tender as lambs quality about them all. They are kind and patient but you can also tell they aren’t going to hurt or bend easily.
I tell them what we will do for them – we’ll get the food, clean the backpacks, pack the backpacks, add something extra to the backpack (fruit, school supply, extra food), bring the backpacks, collect the backpacks and repeat it all over again. If they lose a backpack, don’t worry about it.
I half want to just shut up and walk out in embarrassment. It seems small what we do. Insignificant.
The team of teachers are silent.
“You mean all we have to do is just hand the backpacks out, then put the empty backpacks in a pile for you to collect?”
They start smiling and acting like we just handed them a check for $5,000. I am seriously confused.
“We did all of that ourselves last year and it takes one, sometimes two of us out of the classroom. That’s not good with these kinds of kids. You have no idea how much this is going to help us.”
“Great!” Even though I still feel…small.
We talk about what Western Hills is like. The woman says “I feel guilty. Haven’t been in church forever. I need a church home. I’m guessing you guys are a bit different if you’re the pastor – earring and all.”
I get that a lot.
Some of these kids don’t have electricity in their homes. Their families can’t afford it, so they use candles and flashlight. Or they sleep over at a friends or relatives house. It’s normal life for them.
On the drive home, Amy spoke first. “Well…that kind of put things in perspective.”
I whispered “We have no problems.”
But…we do have hope. Real hope. Awaiting to see what He does here.