ralstenin305

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jun 16 2010

To do work here

To do work in Homestead is to have my heart broken again and again, even when nothing sad happens.

I picked up R- this morning to mow the lawn.  Nothing sad happened, besides the blade falling off the mower.  We laughed, we joked, we got breakfast.  It was a great time – hanging out with this high school boy always is.

And yet, the simple act of dropping R- off at his door leaves me whispering, “Please, please, please, please, please,” to God, hoping and praying for something – anything and everything – for this boy.  That he would be safe, that he would stay in God’s word, that he would have excitement, that he would get all the opportunities and joys that most every child in the United States gets but that he doesn’t necessarily even know about, and that he would stay as happy and grateful to be in Homestead and Florida City as he is now.  That he would be great.  That he wouldn’t be too great.  That he would leave this area.  That he would stay.  So many things, and I see that for the rest of the day, I won’t be able to control any of these wishes because he is leaving my car.  And so all I can say as I feel my heart breaking for this boy I took to McDonald’s and watched mow the lawn – all I can say is, “Please.”

The school board voted – I do believe unanimously – to close our charter school today.  I saw my children on TV crying because they are worried about going to other schools, because they are sad that they will have new teachers.  All I can say, again, is, “Please” – please keep them safe, please bring them back to me (if possible), please put them in schools and with teachers who are amazing and deeply care about them.  Please.
To work here is to have my heart broken, to say please over and over, to realize that I am not the one who holds the world and I cannot and do not want to be that person.  To realize that I am limited in my ability.  But then God steps in and mends things: in R-’s smiles, in a KIX kid’s hug, and in the promises that He will make all things new – and reminds me that if it were in my hands, it would be even worse, that I would buckle under the weight of just one child’s, much less every child’s, problems and dreams, but that ultimately, it is fine because He is going to put me back together, put us all back together, again and again, because of a simple, “Please.”
My school is closed, but I will stay in Homestead for another year at least, having things broken and built up.  To work here is to feel God’s love, even as you feel broken, and I love working here.

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