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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Pour Your Heart Out: The Troubled Glass

If you need more info about Pour Your Heart Out, see THIS post.

But, really, it's anything that YOU consider pouring your heart out.

Be sure to check out some of the links- you will find some amazing stories out there.
Again, just a brief reminder that everyone linking is pouring their hearts out and we should all be respectful in our comments. ;)


I saw one of my former students on Monday. She's now the age that I was when I taught her- 24.

We didn't get a chance to talk- I had two of my boys with me and we were on our way out of their doctors' appointments and headed to school.

But, I remember her.

She was a very cute little girl. But, labeled by all her other teachers as Trouble. Maybe even TROUBLE.

With a sarcastic mouth, sometimes disrespectful as she tried to be a class clown or the tough girl. Wearing clothes that were too short and too tight to be appropriate. Skipping school, failing classes. Rumors of parties and boys and drinking.

But, somehow, I saw more in her. I saw a smart girl who just wanted attention. Someone who wasn't sure how to get it the right way. Insecure but not wanting anyone to ever know that about her. Unsure of her place in the world. Having a mom who worked nights and had no idea what she was doing. No father in the picture.  Not having the right clothes or look to fit in with the "in crowd." But wanting desperately to belong.

I was the "fun" teacher....as long as my students behaved, why have textbooks and boring assignments? I was "fun" in that we did a lot of projects and experiments(though "mean" because I did have rules).  I always told my students that they pretty much had to make themselves fail my classes because it was easy to pass...and with a little effort, they could have an A. Understand that this was middle school and I was teaching subjects that weren't tested on the state standardized tests at the end of the year.

This was intriguing to this particular student. You mean, a girl who had failed classes and only got socially promoted to the next grade could get an A?

I had special incentives for her. Go ten full days to school without skipping and I'd take her and a friend to the mall. We came up with other rewards that were appealing to her to get her to try in school. I'd help her with other subjects, too, and act as a go-between when she was having trouble with another teacher.

One Monday afternoon, in the middle of one of my lessons, I saw her writing a note. I kept going with the lesson, but walked over near her. I saw the note was addressed to me and she whispered that she'd give it to me soon.

This was unusual, so I thought I would just let it go and see what came of it.

At the end of class, she handed me the note with tears in her eyes. My stomach sank.

I read. She had been at a party that weekend and had been drinking. She knew she shouldn't drink, but it was a bunch of high schoolers and she didn't want to stick out, so she was drinking. And after two drinks, she felt really weird. The next thing that she remembered was waking up in a bedroom with one of the boys ontop of her- having sex with her. She said she screamed and hit him and told him to stop. That, despite the rumors, she was a virgin before that and the boy started freaking out at the sight of blood. And now she was scared and didn't know what to do.  What if she got pregnant or got a disease? Could I please tell her mom for her? But, please don't tell her other teachers.

My heart broke for her. Even though the skeptical part of me wanted to question some of her story...still, it was obvious that she was upset. And now, I had to talk to her mom.

When her mom was able to come in for a conference, one of the girl's other teachers told me "Make sure you tell her mom that she hasn't turned in a homework assignment in my class for a week." I ignored her because seriously, this was not the time.

I honestly don't remember exactly what I said to her mom. I do remember both of us crying. I don't know what else you do at news like that.

Her mom thanked me for being a good influence in her daughter's life and trying to make a difference for her, that much I remember.

I've always wondered what became of that girl. It seemed to me like she was standing at a crossroads(yes, I had to go all cliche on you). That her friends and everyone else in her life just expected that she would go down one path- the one that would lead to making nothing of her life and being a cautionary tale for the next generation of girls like her. But, she had the ability to go down the other path- one that seemed practically hidden from her, one that wasn't easy, to change.

I wonder which one she picked. I wonder if I will see her again so that I can find out.  I hope that she surprised everyone and took the unexpected path.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

What an inspirational story. I've heard the impact teachers have on individuals from the student's perspective but never from the teacher's perspective. If only more teachers cared like you do.

September 22, 2010 at 12:06 AM  
Blogger Sara said...

You, my friend, sounded like an amazing teacher. This girl was lucky to have you on her side. Hopefully, your belief in her helped get her through those times, and on a better path...

September 22, 2010 at 12:15 AM  
Blogger The Drama Mama said...

Your story brought tears to my eyes. I totally get it. What an amazing influence you were in her life, and I really hope that she took the unexpected path too.

September 22, 2010 at 12:24 AM  
Blogger Mothers' Hideaway said...

Those were the hardest moments for me when I taught. I worked in a school with a high pregnancy rate and I had many students ask me to tell their parents with them. They were scared of doing it on their own. You sound like you were an awesome teacher and really, there aren't enough of those these days.

September 22, 2010 at 12:25 AM  
Blogger Frugal Vicki said...

Shell, I so wish we lived close and could be friends....because everything I have ever read from you, I think we would be great ones.

I think it is beyond words that you were there for this girl. There are very few teachers that look behind a students assignments.

September 22, 2010 at 12:53 AM  
Blogger Tiffany said...

If only all teachers were as great as you were and are. I hope that you influenced her and she chose the better path. I think that by seeing her you may have gotten your answer. God gave you that moment of seeing her to prompt you to write this story in hopes to influence others to see behind the cover of a book. ( so to speak)

September 22, 2010 at 12:59 AM  
Blogger shortmama said...

My heart breaks for her. I hope she did everything that no one thought she would be capable of doing

September 22, 2010 at 1:11 AM  
Blogger Oka said...

Something tells me, you will see her again. Take time to say HI. I'm not sure what path she has chosen, but I do know, it's not too late.

September 22, 2010 at 1:31 AM  
Blogger Cheryl D. said...

It's so great that you were a teacher this girl could turn to in her time of need. Every student should have such a teacher. She's lucky she had you there to support her. I think one teacher with this support can make a HUGE difference in a kid's life!

September 22, 2010 at 1:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was that girl in High School and I can tell you that the day I got my graduation announcements from High School I went to the school where I had my first freshman year and I walked into the boys locker room {escorted} and gave one to my health/ PE teacher who had the faith in me you had in this girl. We end up taking pretty good paths in life and I know I've made the few teachers who believed in me very proud of the decision they made.

September 22, 2010 at 1:49 AM  
Blogger Stasha said...

I can only hope that when my daughter is in middle/high school that she has a teacher or two who are as compassionate as you are.

You had an influence on this girl. You were there for her when she felt like she had no one else! That says a lot about who YOU are as a person!

September 22, 2010 at 4:45 AM  
Blogger Sorta Southern Single Mom said...

What a heartbreaking story. I hope she was able to hang on to your positive influence. Every child deserves to know someone cares.

September 22, 2010 at 6:11 AM  
Blogger Mumsy said...

Wonderful and inspiring story! You're an amazing teacher that have a positive affect on that girl.

You're rare, Shell!

September 22, 2010 at 7:21 AM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

Isn't it amazing the kids you remember. Mine are the kids who were troubled too...the one who stole the Pokemon Gameboy game off my desk and made the whole grade have silent lunch for 3 days b/c he wouldn't fess up. The girl who lost her father to suicide. The girl who lost her mother to a car accident. The girl who ended up getting pregnant in high school even though she swore it would never happen to her. Teaching is so hard in some ways because you rarely get to see how it turns out.

September 22, 2010 at 7:36 AM  
Blogger Di said...

What an amazing teacher you must have been! I know that you made a lasting impact on that girls life no matter what. You were probably the first person to really reach out and care without an ulterior motive. I 'm sure she still remembers you now!

September 22, 2010 at 7:57 AM  
Blogger Angie said...

You need to say hello to her if you see her again. I am sure she totally remembers you - heck I still see jr high teachers and I know who they are and none of them ever touched my life.

What a wonderful thing you did for her - by reaching out and giving her a chance.

September 22, 2010 at 8:15 AM  
Blogger Ian said...

I used to work in an after school center for 6 years. I had kids come all the way from K through 5th grade. I had something similar happen more than once. That in mind, I ran into one of those kids who is now 23 a few months ago. He works where I work. Saw him in the cafe and did a double take.

This was one of the kids who gave me a hell of a hard time and could vouch for that oven story I told.

We talked for about 5 minutes and see each other from time to time. He said he remembers nothing of Elem School. Just a cool guy who make waiting for his parents to pick him up from after school care so much better than staying home and doing nothing.

Reach out to her. See her again, you should talk to her.

It will make the next post about this person that much more special.

September 22, 2010 at 8:29 AM  
Blogger Semi-Slacker Mom said...

If only there were more teachers like you in this world. I do hope you run into her again. I know she remembers you & probably still shares a connection to you. I wouldn't be surprised if she doesn't seek you out now that she knows you are back in town.

September 22, 2010 at 8:55 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

Shell-I'm so glad there are teachers out there like you. My parents have been in the schools for 30+ years, and it breaks my heart every time I hear them tell stories about troubled kids. They're so ... jaded. I keep trying to impress upon them that these are KIDS, that there is still time for hope/change, and that most of them just need somebody to take a chance on them. I'm so glad this girl had you. And, I'm guessing that you were an inspiration to many others too. If only more teachers were like you!

September 22, 2010 at 8:57 AM  
Blogger Kmama said...

Oh wow. That totally made me cry. I think it's awesome, that even if she did choose the wrong path for her life, you obviously made an impact on her. Good for you!

September 22, 2010 at 9:08 AM  
Blogger The Random Blogette said...

Wow Shell! You are an amazing person and teacher. I wish that there were more teachers out there that cared more about their students' livens than just getting them through to the next grade. I know that it is hard nowadays with larger class sizes and stressed out teachers. But I think that if some of the teachers cared a little more then it would help out a lot!

September 22, 2010 at 9:09 AM  
Blogger Joey @ Big Teeth and Clouds said...

I hope she remembered how you took an interest in her well being and that carried her through to a good place. I really hope there's a part 2 to this story. You've got me interested in how it turned out!

September 22, 2010 at 9:35 AM  
Blogger The Boob Nazi said...

Poor girl. That's so great that you were there for her at that time.

September 22, 2010 at 9:35 AM  
Blogger Kerri said...

It's interesting that your paths seem to keep crossing....maybe you're not done influencing her life yet or her, yours.

September 22, 2010 at 10:11 AM  
Blogger Amanda said...

Shell, that is one of my fears with my little girl ~ I'm sure it's a fear for every parent of a little girl... to have their innocence ripped from them from rape.

I hope she chose her own path to go on ~ a path that was good for her and one that has made her truly happy.

September 22, 2010 at 10:42 AM  
Blogger Truthful Mommy said...

I feel so badly for that little girl but Thank God she had someone like you in her life that she could come to and confide in. Your interest in her and not treating her like everyone else did, probably saved her from a life of failure. I hope you see her again and get the answers to your questions.

September 22, 2010 at 10:53 AM  
Blogger Closer to Lucy said...

damn it...tears...

I have an award waiting for you at Lucy's!

September 22, 2010 at 10:56 AM  
Blogger Just Another Mom of 2 said...

Oh goodness Shell, I can't imagine being in that situation- I'm sure it had quite the impact. Also, I'm sure by helping her out, by being there when she asked, you impacted her life. No matter what happened or where she ends up, I'm sure she will have helped someone because you were there to help her.

September 22, 2010 at 10:58 AM  
Blogger Natalie said...

I don't even know how I would've handled that, or if I could've. Your story is such an inspiration, Shell, as are you!

September 22, 2010 at 11:02 AM  
Blogger Ma What's 4 dinner said...

I'm crying...I hope my kids always have teachers like you.

Lots of yummy love,
Alex aka Ma What's For Dinner

September 22, 2010 at 11:07 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

That brought tears to my eyes.

That is the kind of teacher I hope to be.

No matter how she, "turned out." I am sure she appreciates your concern.

I hope you run into her again. I would like to know.........

September 22, 2010 at 11:10 AM  
Blogger Jene said...

It's teachers like you who make all the difference in the world. When my parents divorced in high school I lost my way for a little while. I still remember, 14 years later, the compassion and understanding that my 10th grade english teacher showed me, and I truly believe that she helped me to find the light at the end of the tunnel.

We're still friends today.

September 22, 2010 at 11:14 AM  
Blogger Tiffany said...

Oh man - I went through a few of those when I was teaching! It always made me so mad how the other teachers would label & judge the children. Maybe it was my youth ministry backgroud, but I believe there is good in every kid. I too had students in my class that thrived with me, but struggled everywhere else. Thanks for taking the time to see the good in that young lady - from one teach to another.

September 22, 2010 at 11:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My son needs you NOW!

Really. I know it must be frustrating for teachers, but I can't tell you how much this touched me and gives me a sliver of hope.


September 22, 2010 at 11:46 AM  
Blogger Tiffany said...

You were an amazing teacher. She trusted you with SO much. And, the feeling is mutual - how did I not know about you?!?

September 22, 2010 at 11:54 AM  
Blogger Andrea (ace1028) said...

Oh wow. Just, wow. I'm so sorry she went through that, but I am so glad she had you. And that you were able to comfort her and her mom. I hope she took the unexpected road, as well. Keep us posted if you do find out!

September 22, 2010 at 12:10 PM  
Blogger chele said...

I'm sure that your influence manifested in her life in a positive way and one way or another you will witness her eventual success. I only wish there were more teachers like you who take the time to go beyond the outward appearance of a student and see into their hearts.

September 22, 2010 at 12:10 PM  
Blogger Salt said...

She's so lucky that she had you to turn to, Shell. I never had any teachers that were so supportive.

I hope she ended up taking the right path also.

September 22, 2010 at 12:19 PM  
Blogger Florida Girl Meets the Midwest said...

Sometimes we can't appreciate the people who have guided us until much later. You made a positive difference in that girl's life. I think that is wonderful.

September 22, 2010 at 12:30 PM  
Blogger Erin said...

You are such an inspiration. Thank you for being there for here when no one else seemed to be. I'm sure you did more good than you know.

September 22, 2010 at 12:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

She is very lucky to have had you. I am not surprised you were that teacher for her. You are so supportive and helpful to everyone. I hope she went down that path too.

September 22, 2010 at 12:46 PM  
Blogger Steph said...


You have a gift. Maybe one day you'll return to share it again. :)

September 22, 2010 at 12:52 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

Wow, you really did have a great impact on her life.

September 22, 2010 at 12:59 PM  
Blogger Whitney said...

This is so beyond not uncommon -- the sexual assault at a party in high school part, it's disturbing. Awesome for you that as a teacher, you took the time to get involved in the life of your student, and she felt comfortable telling you such intimate details of her life. I am sure she will never forget you

September 22, 2010 at 1:21 PM  
Blogger Beth Zimmerman said...

I hope she did too, Shell! Thank you for caring! We all need someone to care. Especially when we feel broken and alone!

September 22, 2010 at 2:02 PM  
Blogger ModernMom said...

Your story had me near tears.....I have said it before and I will say it again. Teachers do not make enough money. Such an important job. Thank goodness you were there for her.

September 22, 2010 at 2:07 PM  
Blogger Together We Save said...

Wow - that is awesome, you wrote the story really well. She was lucky to have a teacher like you.

September 22, 2010 at 2:32 PM  
Blogger Expats Again said...

Modern Mom, as a retired teacher of 30 years, I second that opinion. Those of us who stick it out are certainly not doing it for the pay. Good teachers continue to teach, circumstances willing, because they cannot conceive of doing anything else. I commend your concern and interest in being there for this student. Pity you didn't have an opportunity to catch up. Hopefully, one day you will.

September 22, 2010 at 2:37 PM  
Blogger Elle said...

I have tears in my eyes. You sound like an incredibly amazing teacher, and I'm sure made quite an impact on that girl's life.

September 22, 2010 at 3:01 PM  
Blogger Whit said...

I have tears.

You are a hero. You are the kind of teacher all parents want their children to have.

God bless you. And that girl. I hope she chose the road that was unexpected.

September 22, 2010 at 3:37 PM  
Blogger MommaKiss said...

oh shell.
teachers, the good ones, are remembered forever. I'm betting she remembers you - holds you close to her heart. What an awful thing she had to go through. Awful.

September 22, 2010 at 4:42 PM  
Blogger Cheryl said...

She will absolutely remember you forever. And appreciate what you did for her, especially as she gets over. You were a bright light for her..

September 22, 2010 at 5:11 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

Heart-wrenching story! I hope you do find out which path she took (and then tell the rest of us!) :)

September 22, 2010 at 7:51 PM  
Blogger Sandra said...

I think being a teacher would be the hardest job in the world. You are changing lives. I couldn't do it because I would be ending lives.

September 22, 2010 at 7:52 PM  
Blogger RN Mama said...

Wow, what a touching story. You sound like you were (are) an amazing teacher, and she was so lucky to have you in her life when she needed someone!

September 22, 2010 at 8:25 PM  
Blogger Ruby@Ruby'sMusings said...

Thanks for sharing that! It was so inspiring and touching. I kind of poured my heart out, kind of did not today...lifted a make up veil as well...so really showed the real me...but forgot to grab a button for the day...hopefully I shall remember next time.

September 22, 2010 at 8:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a fellow ex-teacher, what you did for that girl is AMAZING. I wish all teachers could be like that and I certainly hope that my kids have teachers like you!

September 22, 2010 at 9:06 PM  
Blogger Liz said...

That is so heart-wrenching Shell. I think kids need more teachers like you. Teachers who think outside of the box. You never know; you may have been exactly what she needed to choose the right path.

September 22, 2010 at 10:32 PM  
Blogger Venassa said...

That was amazing. It's wonderful to hear that you're one of those teachers that the 'trouble' kids feel they can confide in. Wherever she is in life, you probably made some sort of difference in it. And I'm curious as well to know how she's doing now.

September 22, 2010 at 10:34 PM  
Blogger Leslie Limon said...

What a beautiful story! This world could use more teachers (and people) like you! I have a feeling that you really did have a positive influence in that girls life and that it has carried over into her future.

Stopping by from SITS!

September 22, 2010 at 10:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. You were a great teacher!! Its probably cause you are such a nice person.

September 23, 2010 at 2:06 AM  
Blogger MommyLovesStilettos said...

WOW. I have goosebumps!

September 23, 2010 at 8:45 AM  
Blogger Adrienne said...

You are the kind teacher I wish all teachers were. Is clear it's something you do from the heart! Were you at the pediatrician's office? I thought you were going to tell us she was a young mom doing great. Dis she have kids? Idk if I'm gonna be able to stand not knowing how she's doing. LOL

September 23, 2010 at 8:47 AM  
Blogger Babes Mami said...

I hope that later we get the other half! What she ended up doing and who she is now.

September 23, 2010 at 8:29 PM  
Blogger Secret Mom Thoughts said...

She will always remember you. I hope she turned out well.

September 24, 2010 at 10:33 AM  
Blogger DaisyGal said...

she will never forget you,,,I know that because in some ways I was her..in college more than HS and then I was you as an RA and RD in college. Seriously when I have bad days..bad weeks etc..I literally take those notes out from my "Girls" and read about how I changed their lives or helped them through something and I feel like I've given something back, helped someone along the way.

this post brought up a lot of nice memories for me, I hope your old student did take the "path not taken" and is doing well. :)

September 24, 2010 at 12:28 PM  
Blogger Mrs4444 said...

This was beautifully written-I loved reading it. I, too, am drawn to the awkward ones. I'm sure she'll never forget you.

Making a difference--What can be more powerful in life?

September 25, 2010 at 1:34 PM  
Blogger polly said...

you are what every parent hopes their child's teacher will be. thank you!

September 26, 2010 at 2:15 PM  
Blogger Heidi said...

What a story - more schools need teachers that take a vested interest like you did. Well done!

September 26, 2010 at 5:55 PM  

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