Thursday, June 17, 2004

Myteekah

Halfway through my first year teaching, a girl named Myteekah was transferred into one of my classes. It was a very difficult class for me, with many strong-willed girls and unpredictable too-old-for-eighth-grade boys who could be sweet and cooperative or just give me straight hell, and I never knew which I was going to get. Some (many?) of the students in the class were involved with gangs, and several could barely read, and their homeroom teacher had basically got them on his side by letting them run the classroom, lounge on his desk, and do little favors for him. Anyway, Myteekah had been in a friend's homeroom before getting moved to this class, so my friend gave me the lowdown on her: She's fine as long as you give her enough attention. Call on her early in the period, show her that you want her to participate, and she'll be fine. Neglect her at your peril. Ms. E's advice was right on. Myteekah was a somewhat awkward girl with big glasses and a ready smile, a girl who liked science, wanted to participate, but could be a pain in the *ss when she didn't get her way.

A colleague and I ran into Myteekah on the train today. She's now a very pretty 17-year-old with contacts, 1290 on the SATs, big but completely attainable goals, a great attitude, and poise. She's a junior in high school in the Bronx, works nearly full-time in downtown Manhattan at a coffee shop, and has taken night classes to fit in more courses. She's headed for a pre-college summer program at a university in Virginia, and wants to study theater and computers in upstate NY after graduating from high school. She remembered all of us, talked enthusiastically about her high school science courses and the grades (mostly B's) she's achieved. I am so proud of her, and I told her so.

She updated me on some of the students from her class - one of the strong-willed girls had a baby soon after finishing eighth grade, others are at her high school and on the honor roll.

I run into former students from time to time, but this was definitey the most meaningful meeting of this kind. I didn't teach Myteekah for very long, but she made an impression on me in a few short months and it is wonderful to see her blossoming like this.

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