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When Life Gives you Casava… Make GB

January 21, 2012

It was a rough week.  The kids were restless and behavior was at another low.  I’m back to yelling and sitting in the corner.  This makes me feel very discouraged.  Just a few weeks apart and they forget all the progress we made?  Depressing. 

I gave a quiz in 11th grade last week and collected copybooks.  Massive failure.  They’re not getting me.  They’re not doing their work.  They’re not taking me seriously.  Sure I’m trying to teach them something entirely new, to think for themselves and synthesize information… but it’s been six weeks and our progress is small.  I must move on.  A few of them are on board like Newton, Daniel, Lee, and Morris, but many of the rest don’t even know to get on the boat, let alone where to find it. 

We had a heartbreaking faculty meeting on Tuesday.  Mr. Demy read out a list of 12th graders who had failed any subjects within the last three years.  Would we allow them to sit for the WAEC?  Given all the conversations I’ve had with students the past few weeks I knew I’d have to be careful.  Listen.  Stay calm.  Choose your words precisely.  A clutch of students hovered just outside the window straining to hear their fate.  I knew they’d expect me to talk.  I knew they’d feel betrayed if, as their sponsor, I watched passively.

We were divided.  Some teachers talked about the reputation of the school and the embarrassment of sending students who would fail.  Some teachers talked bravely about our failings as a school and a faculty.  “Who allowed them to get to 12th grade?  We did.”  As I sensed a vote nearing I shot up my arm.  Mr. Demy called for immediate silence and I tried to summon my most calm and forceful voice.  “As their sponsor I beg, my friends,” I said.  “I beg that you think of the children.  We have allowed them to run the race for this long.  Let them try to finish.  They will feel discouraged if we send them back now.  They are still here.  Let us at least see what they can do.  Let all who want to stand for WAEC and let us do our best to prepare them.” 

I’d almost forgotten I’d spent half our class waiting for them to stop disrupting.  All I could think about was Junior Dahn and the quiet injustices happening all around us.  Some of these kids are just trying to pull themselves up.  If the other teachers aren’t going to help the least they can do is stand aside and let them keep fighting forward rather than pushing them back.  Some of these kids sparkle with a promise of a better future and a stronger Liberia.  They’re smart and hard working and want to do the right thing.  They are why I am here.  They deserve better than this.  I will do whatever I can to help them find it.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 2, 2012 6:26 pm

    Wow. I appreciate the work you are doing, and the voice you are adding to the mix. Warm regards, and thanks for blogging!

  2. April 2, 2012 10:57 pm

    You are awesome!!! I don’t even know you, but lived in Monrovia when I was young and found your blog through an acquaintance of mine. You do wonderful work and are helping so much, don’t ever forget it! Even when they are driving you mad and you just have to sit and wait. I’m also a teacher, so I get that. Peace and love.

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