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Inspiration - a Teacher's Belief Helps an Angry Child

By - 11th February 2013

341
by Rachel Macy Stafford* I had just one year of teaching under my belt and was taking classes towards my master’s degree in special education. Though barely qualified to teach students with challenging behaviour disorders, I quickly assessed that academic training wasn’t going to make me a successful teacher–it had more to do with the connections I made with my students.

… Vince had compliance and anger issues but we had made significant strides in our first year together. Vince was an adorable child who looked forward to our one-on-one lessons and my frequent check-ins to his regular classroom.
On this particular evening, a typical event for a new school year was taking place. It was “Meet the Teacher” night. All the teachers were lined up, preparing to walk across the stage as we were introduced. As we waited for the principal to take the podium, I noticed Vince’s mother making her way through the crowded gymnasium. She was coming straight toward me in breathless haste.
When she spoke, I thought I did not hear her correctly – there was no way I could have heard her right. As the blood drained from my face, I leaned closer praying I had misheard. Vince’s mother repeated the words that seemed incomprehensible, unbearable, and repulsive to my ears.
Vince killed his kitten that afternoon.
As his mother rambled on, I heard nothing. I forced myself to stay composed although all I wanted to do was fall to my knees and sob.
Somehow – I don’t remember how – I made my way across the stage when my name was called. I struggled to hold my sweaty, shaking hands together thinking only of the tiny kitten, praying it did not suffer.
You see, before I became a mother, my pets were my babies. In fact, I loved all animals from a young age and would do anything to save one even if it meant putting myself in harm’s way.
I was the child who was known to stand my ground at the trunk of a tree until the dog went home and the terrified cat could get down safely. I was the teenager who was reprimanded by my driver’s ed instructor for swerving to avoid a dog. In front of my peers, the teacher yelled, “Next time, there is no choice! You must hit the animal to save yourself!”
But despite his scary and humiliating rant, I did not cower. I looked him right in the eye and told him I would always save an animal if I could.
Now here I was seven years later wondering what to do with this—the intentional harm of a helpless animal by a child that I cared for deeply. As distressing as it was to think about the kitten, I had taken enough psychology courses to know this was a deeply troubling sign for Vince.
That night, I did not sleep. I cried for the kitten. I cried for the boy whose heart did not enable him to love and care for an animal. I cried for myself because I still had a school year ahead of me to teach this child. How could I get past this?
The next morning I walked into school with swollen eyes and a conflicted heart. An older and more experienced staff member who had heard what happened stopped me and asked, “What are you going to do? There’s not much hope for that one now is there?”

.… Vince had compliance and anger issues but we had made significant strides in our first year together.

Vince was an adorable child who looked forward to our one-on-one lessons and my frequent check-ins to his regular classroom.On this particular evening, a typical event for a new school year was taking place. It was Meet the Teacher night. All the teachers were lined up, preparing to walk across the stage as we were introduced.

As we waited for the principal to take the podium, I noticed Vince’s mother making her way through the crowded gymnasium. She was coming straight toward me in breathless haste.When she spoke, I thought I did not hear her correctly – there was no way I could have heard her right.

As the blood drained from my face, I leaned closer praying I had misheard. Vince’s mother repeated the words that seemed incomprehensible, unbearable, and repulsive to my ears.Vince killed his kitten that afternoon.

As his mother rambled on, I heard nothing. I forced myself to stay composed although all I wanted to do was fall to my knees and sob.Somehow – I don’t remember how – I made my way across the stage when my name was called. I struggled to hold my sweaty, shaking hands together thinking only of the tiny kitten, praying it did not suffer.

You see, before I became a mother, my pets were my babies. In fact, I loved all animals from a young age and would do anything to save one even if it meant putting myself in harm’s way. I was the child who was known to stand my ground at the trunk of a tree until the dog went home and the terrified cat could get down safely. I was the teenager who was reprimanded by my driver’s ed. instructor for swerving to avoid a dog. In front of my peers, the teacher yelled, “Next time, there is no choice! You must hit the animal to save yourself!” But despite his scary and humiliating rant, I did not cower. I looked him right in the eye and told him I would always save an animal if I could.

Now here I was seven years later wondering what to do with this - the intentional harm of a helpless animal by a child that I cared for deeply. As distressing as it was to think about the kitten, I had taken enough psychology courses to know this was a deeply troubling sign for Vince.

That night, I did not sleep. I cried for the kitten. I cried for the boy whose heart did not enable him to love and care for an animal. I cried for myself because I still had a school year ahead of me to teach this child. How could I get past this?

The next morning I walked into school with swollen eyes and a conflicted heart. An older and more experienced staff member who had heard what happened stopped me and asked, “What are you going to do? There’s not much hope for that one now is there?” ...

*Please do not miss reading what happened next - how a teacher can make a difference in a child's life - on the wonderful blog of Hands Free Mama

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