Monday, June 02, 2008

Small but Mighty

My very first teaching job was teaching bilingual kindergarten at one of the poorest schools in our district. For the first month and a half, I was in a trailer with no bathroom. I had 26 kids- 24 at all times, and it was like a revolving door. Probably 6 or 7 that I had at the beginning of the year had left and 6 or 7 different kids came to take their place. It was crazy, but I was young, inexperienced and desperate for a job, so who was I to complain?
One of my students was this itty-bitty girl, Sharnice. She was a young kindergartner- had a late spring or summer birthday. She had little braids all over her head and a twinkle in her eye, but you hardly ever heard her speak. She often times could not sit still with the rest of the group and would get up and walk around the room. Her home life was tumultuous. I believe she lived with her great grandmother and her boyfriend, who would haul himself out of bed to walk up the hill to get Sharnice at dismissal time, which was like 11:30 (days before mandated all-day kindergarten.) He wore slippers and a cowboy hat and smelled like a distillery, but was a nice man all the same, and she was pretty attached to him. He didn't quite have the pick up procedure etiquette, however. Instead of waiting for the kids to be dismissed, he would stand outside of the trailer and bellow "Shah-neece!" I would very primly pop my head out and say in my best kindergarten teacher voice, "Are you here to pick up Sharnice?" Oh, I could do perky.
About the middle of the year, this man suffered a heart attack and it really kind of rocked Sharnice's world and she got kind of clingy with me. Her mom was in jail and I can't remember the deal with the rest of her family.
One morning, she was hanging out with me as I got ready for the day. She didn't chatter at me like some kids may have, just stood by me and trailed around after me.
After being with me and being virtually silent, she said something to me. She had a really soft little voice, so I didn't quite hear her at first, so I asked her to repeat what she had said. So, she said a little bit louder, "I found a little baby mouse in my house this morning." I did an internal "ew", but since she had initiated conversation, I prompted her- "You did? Really? A little baby mouse?" She looked quite pleased with herself. "Mmmmm hmmmm, " she nodded, grinning. "And I squished it!"

I wonder whatever happened to Sharnice. I hope she's happy.


Blogger Mrs. Chili said...

I can't imagine, given how this story ends, that Sharnice's story varied very much from the stories of those who came before her, and that makes me sad...

6/03/2008 8:08 AM  
Blogger Nic said...

This reminds me of the time one of my more neglected students had a dead mouse in her backpack--which she discovered in my classroom. Gawd.

6/03/2008 9:12 PM  

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