My students went through 312 pencils last year. This may not seem like a lot, until you consider that I teach at a small alternative high school. My smallest class was eight students, my largest fifteen. I did some calculating and figured out that my students, on average, went through roughly seven pencils each during the school year. This would not be unreasonable, except the school administrative assistant gave out a bunch of pencils as did the math teacher. The least of my student's worries were whether they had a pencil or not.
I have had people say that high school students should be more responsible. Perhaps this is true. It seems that students today have more to worry about. Maybe they do. Perhaps it is because teachers and administrators are more sensitive to student needs now than they were in the past. Some of my students come from fully functional, two-parent homes. Others may only have one parent, but seemingly "have it together." Others are not so lucky.
I have had kids who are responsible for getting their younger siblings up, dressed, and on their way to their respective schools in the morning.
I have had kids who have no idea where they will be sleeping for the night, because their family is getting evicted.
I have had kids who wonder how they will stay warm when the Wyoming weather and wind brings temperatures into the negative 20s or worse, and the utilities have been cut off for lack of payment.
I have kids who had to shower and do their laundry at school because they did not have running water at home.
I had a girl who literally had snow coming through the ceiling of her mobile home bedroom.
I had a boy fresh off the streets of a big city, gang tattoos revealing his background. It took him quite a while to learn that he could trust us, and that he was safe.
No child or young adult should have these worries. The school counselor, principal, and yes, even teachers do their best to help the kids find the necessary resources to solve these problems because they cannot learn when these worries are pressing on their minds.
For many of "my kids," hope is lacking, and the chances of them suddenly changing and being responsible for having a pencil are slim. I keep a well stocked school supply table. There are stacks of notebook, graph, and blank paper. A coffee can holds the pencils. Dishpans hold colored pencils, crayons, and markers. There are plenty of rulers and calculators. We have bottles of glue, along with glue sticks. I keep notebook hole reinforcement stickers in my desk because some days, notebook paper with the holes torn out is an absolute crisis, and the final blow on a horrible, rotten day.
I am no different than any other teacher across the country. We all face the same challenges. As teachers we will make sure the students have what they need as we go through another school year together. If you are fortunate enough to be able to provide for your child's school supplies, think about throwing an extra pack of pencils, or glue sticks, or notebook paper, or whatever in your cart. Send it to school with your child. I guarantee the teacher will appreciate it. Because the least of the teacher's worries, and of a kid should be whether a child has a pencil.
(Photo - My Farmer's Insurance agent generously donated 400 pencils to my classroom this year. She also donated a like number to the school's administrative assistant. )
#teachers #schoolsupplies #pencils #Farmersinsurance #education #students #alternativehighschool
Jennie Lawrence is the author of Soap Suds Row - The Bold Lives of Army Laundresses 1802 -1876. She also writes a regular column for African Violet Magazine, and has done freelance work. She has started to dabble in children's literature as well.