Reality bites…

Posted on February 24, 2012


Today, I’m having trouble with reality.

I admit my classroom is a bit of Fantasyland. My school is considered ghetto; we have the vast majority of students on free/reduced lunch; pretty much any fight is race- or gang-related (or both). I figure that the hour in my room everyone gets to escape that reality. That doesn’t mean learning happens all the time. I try really, really hard (or “do”, as Yoda would say since “there is no try”, really, really hard) to make that happen.

Reality invaded anyway on Tuesday, and I’m having a harder-than-normal time with this one. I’m hoping telling the story will make it easier. Advice, as always, is welcome.

This is not my story. It belongs to my student, Nate.

Nate is a great kid. A senior football player. Tall. Strong. Decent, not great, grades.

His best friend, Jonathan. Jonathan’s mom and little brother. All of them, constantly together.

They were all traveling in Mexico over the President’s Day weekend. Control of their car was lost. They rolled into a canal.

Nate got out. Nate got Jonathan’s brother out. Hero stuff.

Nate couldn’t get Jonathan or his mom out. The seat belts were stuck, so the story goes. Jonathan died while Nate holding him, trying to save him

Nate hasn’t been back. The homework request said “out indefinitely”.

The other students say Nate had to leave the candlelight vigil. They said he couldn’t handle it. Everyone legitimately understood; no one could blame him for leaving.

The whole school is sad. I didn’t know Jonathan or his family. I know me, though. I’m not going to hold it together when I see Nate again. I know this isn’t about me. I feel, for some reason, that this will be one I will remember forever. I wish I could do this kind of stuff better, especially considering where the students all live: this is the fourth event involving death this year but the first in eleven years that has hit me this hard. I want to go back to Fantasyland again, where this kind of reality is not allowed in.

Godspeed to Jonathan and his mom. Godspeed to the remaining family. Godspeed to Nate.

Posted in: School