I Need You to Fight for My Students

I sat in the corner of the coffee shop swirling my raspberry mocha, waiting for it to cool. Looking up, I was greeted by a familiar face. A former student who held a piece of my heart.

He had graduated the year before and the story he told me shook loose the tears.

“Mrs. Iseminger. Graduation was the worst day of my life. My mom didn’t even stay long enough to hear my name called. I think she left in the H’s. I haven’t seen her since. I don’t even know where my parents are.

He went on to talk about how he was getting by in the great big world with his great big high school diploma. And I wanted to heave a great big sob.

In recent months, two students have shown up at my classroom door with tears in their eyes, kicked out of their houses. Shuffling between homes of friends while just trying to graduate. No longer living with mothers-gone-wild-breaking-their-children. But what now, Mrs. Iseminger?

DSC_0255DSC_0284DSC_0236It's a Start

Students in our schools are broken. They’re broken pieces from broken backgrounds. Eyes hollow, wondering how to glue and stitch themselves back together realizing Elmer’s can’t fix their problems.

Ask teachers who love their students. Our hearts ache to touch the ripped places in their souls. To help them understand they’re a treasure. To show them they matter. But we don’t always have the tape and the glue and the patch-kits they need.

Sometimes they need you. We need you.

Our schools need you to fight for our students. Not with policies and procedures, rules and regulation. No. We need you to fight with love.

Because have you ever tried to learn with your stomach empty?

Did you ever try to comprehend grammar when all you think about is how you put your alcoholic mother to bed the night before?

What about understanding algebra when your dad invited you to get high with him just yesterday?

Can the history of the world be important to you when you’re wondering how to find a winter coat for your younger brother?

Is biology really as vital as working 30 hours a week to help your parents make rent?

Common Core. Parcc. NCLB. CLAST. Race to the Top. SAT. ACT. End of Course Exams. Teacher Evaluations. Standards. C2Ready?

Not a single one of these policies or tests or acronyms begin to touch the deepest needs of our schools today because our schools have fragmented students who continue to attempt learning in the midst of destitution and dysfunction.

Our students are in a fight and they need you to fight with them. Fight for them.

It’s not a fight to elevate standards. It’s not a fight to send every American boy and girl to college. It’s not a fight to raise internationally competitive test scores.

No.

It’s a fight against poverty. Against abuse. Against neglect. Against brokenness.

It’s a fight we cannot lose.

Because we can’t meet the educational needs of these children without meeting their physical and emotional needs first. Because investing in the lives of our nation’s students is not an option.  Because our students are America too.

I need you to fight. I need you to fight for the care and keeping of our country’s children and teenagers. But how? How can you help my students? How can you help ease the sadness in their eyes?

I don’t know.

Oh, how my heart aches to give you a paltry answer. But I just don’t know. I don’t know how to solve their problems with a law or a policy or even with volunteering.

Yet, I do know my students need you. And then I think, maybe this—Love?

Maybe it can begin with love. Not a John-Lennon-Beatles-All-You-Need-Is-Love answer. But then again, maybe so.

Ask any teacher. She will tell you. Struggling students never really learn in a space without love. When my students know I care, they begin to try. They try because love casts a glimmer of hope into their darkness. A flame of light

When last did you love on a child not your own? I know your own are your priority.

But…

When last did you hit your knees praying for the pain and suffering of our children?

Because the fight begins in your heart. Because when your heart breaks over the condition of broken children–it will haunt you. And I need you to be haunted. Because taking the hand of just one, looking in his eyes and showing him he matters, well…that’s a start.

So please, start fighting.

I think I’m begging.

Because teachers, youth pastors, social workers—we can’t do this alone.

We need you.

Our children need you.

They need you to fight.

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102 Responses to I Need You to Fight for My Students

  1. Anonymous says:

    strong word, friend! thanks for loving yours and others’ children well!

    • Thank you my sweet, Linda!

    • betty clukey says:

      this is what i have been screaming for a while, looking around my daughter’s hood.. so lost and broken, but all these STUPID POLICIES DO NOT BEGIN TO TOUCH BROKEN LIVES.. they give up because their lives are so screwed up at home and they must keep horrible secrets. my heart is with yours,

      broken for these kids.. as early as 7 yrs,. old my grand daughter’s life is already being affected, by such children, who are so broken in the second grade.. the school system that is in place now STINKS.. our educators many don’t even care!! how can i help, i am a grand mother retired.. please tell me i have GOD’s LOVE for these kids.. help me to help you where can i start?? love thru CHRIST betty clukey..

      • Oh, Betty. Thank you for your heart. I can feel the tenderness you have for the children in your area. There are a few ideas…You can volunteer in a school if the school will allow it. You could work with organizations like Big Brother Big Sister. Are there any afterschool programs in your area you could be a part of? Betty, know this, to spend time and invest in the life of even one child makes a difference. What if we all did that? Wow. What a differnce this would make. You are beautiful. I know God will use you.

      • Brenda McKnight says:

        Become a foster Mom! My husband and I have done it. We were empty nesters for almost 20 before we stepped up and opened our doors. God has done some amazing miracles. Our last siblings, 10 year old twins and their 9 yr old brother will soon be my grandbabies. My Son and his Wife are adopting them. They had 0 kids and 4 dogs. I had 3 grandbabies in 2012 and by the end of 2013 I have 7. My other Son adopted a little girl from China. All we have is a love for kids and God does the rest.

      • Terri thompson says:

        Betty we do care , greatly but our hands are so tied now in many ways. You must be careful not to touch (even when your only encouraging) careful what you say it could me misunderstood. These children from broken homes are not trusting, fearful, that you might abuse or mistreat them as they are at home. Some know too much about inappropriate things and misunderstand your caring nature. And then again so many of our professionals have embarrassed us to such to point that we do not dare reach out in fear it would be deemed inappropriate. Don’t pick a child up walking home in the cold, even though you may know him or her, at almost all schools this is not allowed.

        • I’m sad to say, Terri, you’re right in many ways. Fortunately there are still so many things we can do to show our students we love them. And unfortunately, like Betty mentioned, there are those teachers that don’t always have the students’ best interest at heart. But I’m so glad you do, Terri! Praying God shows you ways to love on your students! They’re fortunate to have you:-))

      • See if you local elementary school has a program for parents/grandparents as teachers aides, even two hours a week helps. The teachers relax more and the children thrive and try to please because you care. Get involved with girl scouts, boy scouts, or any local children’s group. I had a daisy and brownie troop and worked as a parent volunteer. There was one little girl that was a terror at school, but was absolute wonderful and loving. She got the attention and praise that appeared to be lacking and gained confidence in herself. Become involved in youth bible class or evening activities in your church.

        • Kinderbeanie@gmail.com says:

          Yes! We all can spend even a tiny amount of time reaps HUGE rewards for our youngsters.

          As I’ve always said, and wholly believe. We don’t need more than the ability to show-up each time we promise to be there for a child and we are putting our words where our mouths are. Youngsters who do not have what they need must be loved along”. I’ve always believed it and still do. Love. Simple, life-changing, free…necessary. Just do it.

  2. Rebecca says:

    Thank you for posting this!!! I’m still in college, but am volunteering in an inner city school and see issues like the ones you mentioned every time I go. I’m glad I’m not the only one broken by the brokenness of my students. I too have no answers, and am just so thankful that our God is one who heals and has the power and the grace and the mercy to make all things new and turn brokenness into beauty. I’ll join you in praying! PS I actually wrote about this too a few weeks ago on my blog: http://wavesofhisgrace.wordpress.com/2014/02/15/so-so-broken/.

    • Thank you for sharing this, Rebecca. I think God is raising up His followers to shine His light and make a difference for the broken and hurting. Your generation is an amazing piece of that movement. We will pray together, my sister!

  3. Julie Thomas says:

    You have a wonderful gift for writing Heather. I’m so happy I’ve gotten to read your posts, hope others do as well. Keep writing!!

  4. Hey there! I just want you to know, I love your posts! I am a homeschool mom, but my kids spent may of their years in public school and I just loved those teachers. It’s so awesome to read your heart for your students and kids in general. There’s just something very special about what you share here, thank you so much!

  5. Kelly M says:

    Beautiful Truth!

  6. Brenda says:

    I, too, am a teacher and have hit my knees and grabbed my tissue many times over the years as I prayed for “my kids” and shed tears for “my kids.” I also volunteered as a Young Life leader for 13 years to help kids that would have otherwise fallen through the cracks.

  7. Bruce Kendall says:

    Helping kids develop their Emotional Intelligence, is just one of many steps that can be taken.

  8. Judy Hagey says:

    Well said, well written. May your tribe and voice–of teachers who speak to the heart of our educational problems (pun intended) – increase. Love your heart.

  9. Anonymous says:

    “Struggling students never really learn in a space without love. When my students know I care, they begin to try. They try because love casts a glimmer of hope into their darkness. A flame of light”
    I love your words. But, even more,I love to know that more people care as much as I do. When MY students know I care, they also try!! It’s a darn thing, what love can do…

  10. Bob Sexton says:

    They break our hearts… yet they give us so much joy… I LOVE when one of my students “drops” by to say “hi” after they have graduated… I’ve always said, that if you can capture the kid’s heart, then the brain will follow… I love my students… even the ones who give me heartache…

  11. Anonymous says:

    Thank you I have Grandchildren in Elem. and I thank you rest assured I wiil try hard to do what I can I worked tirlessly when my Daughter was in school and I will keep on trying to help some way
    Thank you for Loving all the children

  12. Lisa says:

    I always appreciate everything – I mean EVERYthing you write. Today I am reminded of my close friends. She teaches in a public school in the inner city. She loves her students as if they shared blood, and not just a classroom.

    “What are your students like?” I asked her once.

    “One of my boys just burned down his family’s apartment, and one of my girls was raped last year.”

    Her students were seven-years-old.

  13. susan says:

    This is awesome and so true! My class who works their tails off for me, because they know I love them (and are holy terrors for everyone else). People don’t realize what kids lives are like…it is not all about scores and great gifts from parents for teacher appreciation – the kiddos that need our love the most are forgotten by politicians making decisions.

  14. Shannan Orrick says:

    Principals, and teachers, do make a difference. Thank you Lee Browning from Delhi Ca…you were what every teacher/principal should be. You made all the difference in the world to me. God bless those who do care above and beyond.

  15. Ron says:

    Thank you for sharing your heart. Imagine if even one million followers of Jesus Christ loved,nurtured,cared for one child outside of their home. We can’t affect every child or every person we encounter. But the Holy Spirit can!! He knows who is open to His prompting and if we pray to be used He will send a heart in reach of God’s love. Pray for God to send them into your path and they will come.

  16. Marie says:

    I believe helping in the public school classroom might be something I need to pray about doing. I presently volunteer at Friendship International, one morning a week.

  17. nancy cowden says:

    I’m fighting for Sammy! I’m single, 32 and have no children of my own…and on the verge of adopting a very troubled 15yr old. Everyone deserves a chance!

    • Nancy, may God bless you beyond measure for the difference you are making in your boy’s life. Praying for you as you face new challenges and brilliant moments of joy as a momma. You inspire me!

  18. Mrs. Z ECHS Math says:

    I see the broken every year I teach. Some years there are more, some years there are less but yet I am still haunted by them and their worlds of sorrow. From the student who attempted suicide to the one who succeeded, from the hungry and homeless to the fed but emotionally neglected, from the insecure to the defeated, from the I’m pregnant to the I’m going to be a father, from the student who is the only true adult in his home of five children, may you all reach out to them in one way or another. As a high school math teacher being bombarded with Common Core, PARCC, and integrated math curriculum changes may I never forget what is most important of all — the love for a child.

  19. Eve Russell says:

    Wow!!! I am a retired elementary school teacher and the tears are flowing for many of my past students after reading this….. They ALL need to know someone cares so badly. I now work at a local university with junior students in education. I have told them many times that a child doesn’t know how much you know until they know how much you care!!! Thanks for posting this!!!

  20. Joan Sircy says:

    I taught school for 30 years. I had no children of my own so my students were my children. I only hope and pray that I touched as many students as I could. I stay in touch with several who are married with children. They talk to me about how things are now in school and it breaks my heart. Many a night I took students home to spend the night. I have clothed and fed many. We all need to make a difference. Thank you for putting what we need to hear so eloquently. I pray for all students every night. Teachers too!!!

  21. Becca Morris says:

    I am in there with you. My 4th graders have to deal with so many things outside of school. It crushes me. I am sharing this with everyone I know.
    ✰Becca
    Simply 2nd Resources

  22. Ramon Luna says:

    Wow. I’ve recently been enlightened to these issues by other teachers. Thank you for putting into words what most don’t but need to understand.

  23. Laurie says:

    I couldn’t agree more with so many lines in your post, especially this one: “Struggling students can’t learn in a space without love.”
    Your students sound like my students.
    (I’ve been writing about the school-to-prison pipeline in the past week.)

  24. Barbara Johnson says:

    God bless you, and my prayers, as they’ve been and will continue to be, are for the Broken Ones. Before becoming a grandmother to precious twin girls 21 years ago, I heard yet another horrible news story about a child who was abused at the hand of the one who was supposed to love and protect him. I thought of how I wished I could take in all the children with broken wings and broken hearts, and love them back to wholeness. Little did I ever dream that one day it would end up being my own little grandbabies. But sometimes the damage done by parents is so severe that there isn’t enough love in the world to erase the scars. Now, at 61 yrs. old, I am raising a great-grandson – born as the result of one of the granddaughters I raised, looking for love – enough love – to make life bearable for herself. …We need to do whatever we can to break the cycle. Thank you for a much-needed, very well-said commentary!

  25. Holly says:

    Amen, amen, amen! I worked in “the system” for years and saw this time and time again. You hit this right on the head. I will add that children are children until the day they become legal adults. They are so hidden and defined by their circumstances then thrown to a world where they lack the skills and support to survive without emotional support and guidance. Thank you for writing this piece and for speaking on behalf of these children.

  26. A L says:

    I’ve helped kids by fostering, letting them sleep over, offering to help with homework, praying, giving rides, encouraging them with words and hugs, hiring them for little jobs, raising money for camp and mission trips, but my battle has been with the parents – they don’t want your help or your words for themselves or even the kids. That is what is really sad! I’ve heard things like, “I had a hard life. He’ll get over it…” My husband was a school teacher and scout leader. You can’t hug anymore and you are limited in what you can do and say in order to protect from abuse. I understand. However it leaves many kids lacking. Dont know what answer is other than God.

  27. Dana Creger says:

    What a wonderful piece. Having been raised by two teachers I remember my wonderful childhood.

  28. Elonie Sheen says:

    This was a blessing to me today! I am a former teacher, now stay at home mom, and my oldest starts school in the fall. We know many people that homeschool, but we feel passionately that God wants us to public school, and I have such a desire to do it with purpose! I had students like you describe, and I think many of the students in our neighborhood have similar struggles. I’m already starting to do prayer walks around the school, and I’m praying for someone to start a Moms in Prayer group with. I hear your heart, and it is mine, too. Lord, use me!

    • Oh, Elonie! YES! I know God is calling Christian children and teachers into public schools to be the Light. And for Christian teachers His light shines through our love of our students. Thank you! Thank you for answering His call. I know He doesn’t call all families into public schools, but He does call many of us. You have encouraged me.

  29. Billy says:

    I am no teacher, but have seen the abuse, neglect and negative influence in the innocent lives of precious children far too often and to read your words breaks my heart evermore deeper for them. I wish I could make a positive impact on those young lives, but as a father of eight I barely have time to think straight but my prayers and thoughts are with you for the work you do and with these children for the hope healing and love they need and deserve. God bless

  30. Ellen says:

    I am haunted right now, every child should have a safe home to go home to. My heart is broken for one who is incredibly broken.

  31. Maeve says:

    Although some children living in poverty are experiencing the traumas you describe, many children in the same situation have loving parents who are doing their very best to meet the needs of their children – including utilizing the resources of the school and community organizations operating in their children’s schools. If you want to respond to what is said in this writing, especially for those children who are living through traumatic experience after traumatic experience, ***support community organizations that support both schools and families.*** High quality Out-of-School Time programs/after school time programs provide a place where children do experience love, where they get to be kids with other kids in a safe place, and where parents find a safe place to communicate with adults who also care about their children, and where families are connected to resources they need. In many way these organizations and programs provide a bridge between families and the school, and help create the ‘village.’

    • Maeve,
      Thank you so much for your comment. You’re right. It absolutely takes a village and fortunately, we do have amazing resources and programs that are out there helping to make a differnce in the lives of children. I am grateful for them. I am grateful for what they do for the children and what they do for our parents. I hope that this blog will point people in the direction of some of those organizations–any organization, religious or not, that is focused on loving and supporting those who are hurting. Thank you for your thoughtful and kind response. I appreciate it so much. Keep doing the amazing things you are doing! You are part of the solution, for sure.
      Blessings,
      Heather

  32. Sarah says:

    I am a first year teacher and this is exactly what has been building in my heart for some time now. I love my students so much and their stories absolutely break my heart, but I just love them. And just yes. Thank you for voicing this.

  33. Becky says:

    This is a huge encouragement and reminder for me. As a public school teacher, there are days I want to hug a child and tell them how much Jesus loves them and how He is always there when they are scared or hungry or sad! As I watch these kids grow and sometimes make choices that for them are a part of what feels normal, but not a good path, I want to tell them of the hope they can have in Christ. I may not be able to tell them in words, but I can love them in actions! I know I can encourage them and pray for opportunities to bless them! Thanks for the reminder that it all matters and how I need to always be on the lookout for a chance to encourage and love! Thanks!

  34. Candace LaRue says:

    The last time I hit my knees praying for the pain and suffering of our children was, in fact, last night. However, I also prayed for their parents, many of whom are struggling to make ends meet. In my nearly 40 years of working with highly vulnerable youth I have learned that the number one best way to help children in crisis is to love and help their parents.

    • Maurita says:

      You’re absolutely right! It’s hard to remember that the parents are doing the best they can with what they know. Too many of them are the broken children of the past that couldn’t find that lifeline. It’s equally important to remember not to judge.

  35. Keena says:

    This is so well said! I am literally in tears…Thank you for this challenge, this call….this mandate to do SOMETHING.

  36. Rebecca says:

    And this is exactly why I had an extra boy living with me from 8th to 12th grade! Now he is in college!

  37. J N says:

    Excellent article. I helped out in a classroom once with younger children and was trying to help a girl who was struggling to follow the rules. After my attempts had all failed and I was ready to give up she spontaneously turned to me and asked for a hug. I know it gets more complicated as they get older, but the foundation for a good education has to be love, acceptance, and being able to meet the basic needs of our students.

  38. These stories presented here are so true!! I am a retired sp ed teacher of over 30 years, and I had kiddos like these every single year, and it just breaks your heart!! As the story goes it shouldn’t hurt to be a child. I still volunteer one day a week at the school I retired from as a “Big sister” through the BBBS organization in my community. I feel it is the least I can do to help make a difference in the life of one child!!

  39. Julie says:

    Children learn what they live.

  40. Karin Ralston says:

    This brought tears to my eyes. I work in a Title I middle school. I see these broken children every day. They sit in my classroom as we talk about cells, chromosomes, Gregor Mendel…. and all they can think about is, “Am I going to eat tonight?” “Will he beat me tonight?” “Will the other kids notice when I wear the same clothes 5 days straight?” They are not able to care about what vacuoles do in a cell. They need the basics….food, shelter, clean clothes, and a hug. My heart breaks every day when I go to my classroom. I do what I can, but one person can only do so much. I am so thankful there are others who feel as I do. Thank you!

  41. Thank you, Mrs. Iseminger. My daughter, Miss Schubert, shared this to her Facebook. I also. Then I thought it worth more, so I wrote about it on my own blog. http://gottadobetterthanthis.wordpress.com/2014/03/06/children-need-us/ Again, thanks for encouraging my daughter. She finds third-grade particularly challenging. I don’t know how many times my only advice to her has been, “Love those babies.” Her heart is in it, and she so obviously does love her students, but the regulations and Common Core are sapping her. She does have good support, great teachers mentoring her, and a solid and caring principal. My daughter is working harder than I am, that is for sure.

    • Thank you so much, Lonnie! I also appreciate your blog. I got a chance to read it, and you make some wonderful points. Your daughter is fortunate to have such a supportive dad!

  42. When my children were in school I helped volunteer in their classrooms to give extra aide to the ones who needed it. First we had to provide them with winter coats, socks and underwear so they could at least be warm to come to school. Had to take the tags out of clothing so that the parents would not return them to the store for the money. In the end I knew that loving them and trying to provide for them (by enlisting the help of many others) was probably going to be the best education I could give them. Prayer is the answer, for the problem is so huge that only God can fix it. Thank you to my parents who provided the love and discipline and to so many good teachers that I loved dearly. Thank you to those of you who still are in the trenches daily and care so much, In reading these words I hear Hope!

  43. Tondra says:

    We need shelters dedicated to young people in school with no where to go. Feed them and give them shelter to get them through school and teach them survival so when they graduate they can move forward with confidence.

  44. Kathy Dugger says:

    I have been involved in many programs @elementary level, but none exist in our schools @middle or high school levels. I help many of my granddaughter’s friends but now I see the need is greater than I imagined. I will approach a few teachers and zen what is needed and get something started.

  45. janice l hennesy says:

    I hear and see this every day, I sponsor teens in a 12 step recovery program that encourages belief in a higher power,and attempts to develop ways in which to find hope, and a different way to live. that the massive destruction that drugs and alcohol causes in so many homes are heart breaking and terrifying, but not their fault. And, I know for the few that attend, there are thousands more that are suffering. Talented, precious, beautiful, sensitive hurting kids. I also believe that budget cuts in every direction cuts out many after school interest programs, too many kids, go home to an empty house and rely on the internet to provide the love and care that they should receive from their family. Families are suffering communication and face time issues as our economy forces people to work more low paying jobs, maybe one or two, just to provide very basic needs for their children. We need so many prayers first and for most for our country, and our children. It DOES take a village or two to love and nurture and develop belief in a God that is always there for ALL of us, especially in the bleakest and lonliest of moments.

  46. amber says:

    Almost 10 years ago, I was a high school student in a small town who had a mother who loved me and my brother with all her heart and did everything she could to give us a good life. School was never a priority but it was where I shined and my mother constantly supported that. I might have never gone to college. There was no way my mom could have helped financially. But I had teachers like the ones you are talking about. Who saw something in me and helped me discover it and hone it and believe in my dreams. Statistically, I should be on my second or third child working at a job that barely pays minimum wage and offers no benefits with my high school diploma. Instead, I am close to attaining my PhD with plans to teach and hopefully bring the same care and encouragement into a student’s life that was brought into mine. So just know that you are changing someone’s life with your care and your love and your encouragement. Your heart is not breaking for no reason and those students will remember you the rest of their lives. Maybe it’s not changing the world, but you’re changing someone’s world and that’s all we can ask for.

    • Amber, your comment warmed my soul and brought tears to my eyes. Thank you. Praying God brings you smoothly through the final stretch of your PhD. How awesome is that! Congratulations.

  47. Carol Anderson says:

    Thank you for your post. Our family does what we can to help LOTS of broken kids feel loved (currently housing another high school student). It is exhausting at times, thank you for reminding me how great the need is.

  48. Nannny Jean says:

    I have been to every school my granddaughter went to, since early learning school. I would sign in as a visitor that way I was always in her class. All the staff personnel and kids call me Nanny, to this day. One day I fell in the cafeteria, not one child laughed. They all ran over to see if I was ok. The only person who laughed that day was my son in law. He said, ” you are telling me you fell in a cafeteria full of kids, and not even one kid laughed ? How is that ,” ? I simply answered, “Because I’m Nanny.” She is 13 now, middle school, so I don’t go like I used to. But I cannot count the number of lunches I paid for, nor, most importantly, how many babies I held while they cried and told me what was bothering them. I cannot count how many supplies I took to school, for those that needed them. BUT, I CAN NAME TWO TEACHERS WHO SAID THEY WOULDN’T PASS THIS CHILD OR THAT CHILD, BECAUSE THEY DIDN’T LIKE THE SMELL OR WAY THE CHILD DRESSED. BUT THOSE WERE THE ONLY TEACHERS I KNEW LIKE THAT. BUT THE WORST, WAS WHEN, KNOWING THIS ONE CHILD OWED TOO MUCH MONEY, AND THAT THEY WERE NOT GOING TO LET HIM HAVE LUNCH FOR THIS REASON, THEY ALLOWED HIM TO PICK OUT WHAT HE WANTED, THEN WHEN HE PUNCHED IN HIS ID NUMBER, THEY HAD TO LITERALLY TEAR THE TRAY FROM THIS CHILD WHO WAS SCREAMING, NO, NO, IM HUNGRY. I PAID ALL HE OWED AND AN EXTRA WEEK. AFTER HE ATE, HE CAME AND HUGGED MY NECK AND SAID, ” THANK YOU, NANNY. MY MOMMY AND DADDY DIDN’T HAVE ANY MONEY FOR ME THIS WEEK.” I TAKE TO HEART A CHILD’S HEART. THIS HAPPENED TO ME SOME AS A CHILD. I LIVED IT, SO I KNOW HOW IT FEELS. THERE SHOULD BE A HUNGER FUND AT ALL SCHOOLS. NO CHILD SHOULD HAVE TO GO HUNGRY. I TAKE LUNCH TO MY OWN GRANDDAUGHTERS, WHEN THEY NEED IT.

    • Thank you for all you’re doing for the students. I’m sure you’re an incredible blessing to them. It always saddens me to know there are people, teachers or otherwise, who don’t always love first. And your story about the little boy and his lunch is just heartbreaking. Thank you for loving children, Nanny! I’m sure you are making a difference.

  49. sue ringo says:

    In my community with population of 5300, the kids knew they could come to us for help. If they
    Didn’t know where to go the police dept knew where to send them.
    It was nothing to have anywhere between 2 and 5 kids in our home at any given
    Time.
    We tried to give them a life they didn’t have at home. Food,clothes,an ear to listen
    And a safe place.
    Many of the kids still call us mom and dad.
    I hope that we made a difference somehow in their lives.
    I always wanted a big family,God’s plan was different than mine.
    I had a big family, in all we helped over 20 kids.
    They became our children, even if for a short while.
    I have no regrets and if I could I would do it again.
    There are so many children out there that just need a hand up
    And someone to show them they are loved. To tea h them that their life
    Is worth living, that they can achieve anything.
    Many have gone on to be parents themselves,and I hope they took with them
    The love we gave them.

  50. Thanks for that wonderful article. We need more teachers like you! The crisis you lay out for the reader is but an “off-shoot” of a far greater crisis in our country (forget the rest of the world in this instance). We, as a country, are so off-course that it’s almost impossible to know where to begin to fix it. The children are suffering and paying the price for the messed-up adults. We have totally thrown our moral compass out of whack. The easiest solution is God. We have strayed from Him way too much. Most of these problems you describe the children having would not exist if they were in a Christian home. Their parents would have different goals and a totally different attitude, if they were believers. Our country was founded on Christian principals and needs to get back to them. Otherwise, Democracy does not work. We have way too much freedom. Freedom without a moral responsibility is doomed to be a failure and will show up in our offspring for certain. Their children, the next generation, will be even worse. Teachers should not and cannot be responsible for the outcome. I just really appreciate how you have seen these things happening to our children and are informing us of the need. The other thing you can do is make a difference with each of your students while they are your students. How fortunate they are!

    • Connie, You’re right. Our country needs God in so many ways. My prayer is that the Christians of our nation will begin loving, through our actions and our words, the people in the world and nation we live in…only when we begin to demonstrate lives of grace and love will others be drawn to the Jesus we serve:-) Thank you for your thoughts.

  51. Donna Hogue says:

    Do high schools have voluntary mentoring programs? I live in West Memphis, Arkansas and I would love to mentor a young woman through her high school years.

    • Donna, often mentoring programs and other volunteering opportunities vary from state to state and district to district. One of your best options would be to start with a high school close to you. The Big Brother/Big Sister organization is another awesome program outside of schools that allow you to invest in the lives of young people. Thank you for your willingness to be a part of the solution, Donna!

  52. Elizabeth Jones says:

    While our children were in high school, I returned to college to finish my education degree. Although I had been very involved in the schools they attended, nothing prepared me for the reality facing many of my students as I entered my own classroom. I thought I knew, but I didn’t. The first time I understood was when a former student (during his freshman year) showed up to class for a few days about every two or three weeks, did the makeup work and took the tests. He always outscored the others, even though he hadn’t been in class. Convinced he was somehow cheating , I set out to figure out how. What I discovered was, he is an incredibly intelligent young man caught in a cycle of poverty beyond my imagination. During high school he never knew for sure where he was going to sleep. Because he was so smart, I knew he could end up in terrible trouble on the wrong side of the law. His father was involved with meth, and both his brothers have served time in jail. It was a process, because there are really no quick fixes. Although he fathered a child, born during his junior year, and was on house arrest for several months, he managed to become the first in his family to graduate high school. His mother was present to watch him graduate, but she overdosed a couple of months later. Today this young man is just three semesters away from becoming a college graduate. He calls me periodically and recently announced he was strongly considering graduate school. He is still a non-believer, but I continue to pray for him. I stand in awe of the things he has accomplished: holding a steady job, working to pay child support, and continuing to go to college, even when he had to work to pay his way because he allowed his grades to slip too low & lost financial aid he needed so desperately because he struggled to have reliable transportation.
    Your blog truly captures a glimpse of the heartbreak and brokenness that is so prevalent in nearly every school and community across our nation. These precious students need our help. We cannot do this alone and it has to start with telling the stories, making people aware. Your heart of compassion shines brightly through the words you have written. I was so happy to share your blog, and have already been blessed by people telling how they’ve helped certain students, or others sharing the blog again. You are sowing seed to make a lasting difference.
    When people, especially Christians, begin to understand the magnitude of the needs, I believe they will begin to rise up and join in to do whatever they can to help. Making a lasting change in someone’s future is about each one of us realizing we can do something to make changes, then asking God to show us how and where we can be used, and rolling up our sleeves and being about the business of the kingdom. Thank you for being a vessel for Him.

  53. Shiela says:

    Yes! Yes! Yes! I teach online for a Christian university in the education department and I had to share your blog post with them…..I hope you don’t mind 🙂 I gave you full credit! In my 14 years teaching 9th grade, I have experienced so much that I could have written your blog post. This sums up everything I deal with on a daily basis and the joy I feel when I may make some small difference somewhere, somehow. Thank you!

  54. `sharon says:

    What you said is so true. I am a retired teacher and had students like these. I was even told I care too much for my students. I didn’t care. They needs someone to let them know they are wonderful children of God. They need to know you care. You may be the only one that shows them they are loved.

  55. Cheryl Dalton says:

    Thank you for this post. A friend emailed it to me, tears flowed as a read these words.
    In the state of Missouri we have an amazing Christian college “College of the Ozarks” or otherwise known as Hard Work U. The students do not pay tuition. All students work 15 hours a week and two 40 hour weeks in the year. They have vegetable gardens, cattle, the students build all the buildings and receive a top education. Their mission is to help young people who do not have the financial ability to attend college. In my small rural church we have some at risk youth with heartbreaking stories such as the one this post described. In my frustration, the Lord spoke to my heart with the words “mentor, disciple”. There is one young man, a senior in High School, living on his own with not hope for a future. I asked his permission to mentor him through the application process at College of the Ozarks. Many from church came along side him to help him in this journey. He was accepted for next fall semester. Praise the Lord. His mentoring will continue as it will be a major adjustment for him but I have faith that the Lord has a great plan in store for him. It sometimes is overwhelming, so many who need help. But if we get involved as adult mentors, in the lives a few, perhaps it can turn the tide and bring hope to others along the way.
    Great post. I will share this with many others!

  56. This is a slam-dunk. “When last did you love on a child not your own?” YES!! One of my readers sent me this b/c I’ve blogged about similar things recently. Thanks for pushing us. We need to be shoved around a little!

  57. Anonymous says:

    As a former elementary school assistant of 8 years I have seen the needs of these children and it is heartbreaking. I have had to finally take a step back now because I found that eventually I let myself become too overwhelmed. It seems everywhere you turn there is more need everyday. My best help at this point is on my knees. These precious people are priceless and yet they are treated like so much throw away garbage. I wish we could make every adult understand the priority before they choose to have these precious little people.

  58. Claryssa says:

    WOW!
    Thank you for sharing truth!

  59. Britney says:

    This was wonderful to read. Came across it on Facebook and hope it becomes virtual for other teachers, parents, and community members to read. I had to read into more of your blog post and have found a new blog to follow. Your family, community and students are truly blessed to have you. Thank you for the amazing remind of why we are here every day and what made me become a teacher! Have a blessed day!

  60. You don’t have a follow button. Being a WordPress blog, that surprises me. I’ll click the follow-button if you include one.

  61. Indigo Elsie says:

    I found your post via Facebook. I am the principal of just such a school — 650 kiddos in grades K-8. I love each one of my students with all I’ve got, and my heart is heavy with their burdens. I get comfort knowing that for the 7 hours each day they are with me, they are fed, clothed, safe and loved. Thank you for putting into words what I ponder often. I’m going to share this with everyone I know!

  62. This is one of my favorite blog posts. Thank you so much for saying what needs to be said in just the right way.

  63. This post leads me to believe we may need a new Statue of Liberty. One who calls to her all of those disaffected, unhomed, restless souls who yearn to be loved, who yearn to have their lives mean something to someone:
    “Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
    With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
    The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
    Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
    I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

  64. Jackie says:

    My precious child: God has given you an amazing gift. The love you share with your students and everyone else is the love of our Savior Jesue Christ!

  65. Jackie says:

    James 2:14-17 is in my heart telling me to listen hard to what God wants me to do. I know praying is the way to start.

  66. Totten says:

    Something I’ve really been convicted of this year: we need so much more than new curriculum initiatives with flashy names. These guys need a solid foundation of love and support. In a real and meaningful way.

    Thank you for putting this out here.

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