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When seven year-old Raymond came to school each morning, he had to walk only a few blocks. He came by way of three alleys and a set of stairs. Not too far maybe, but farther than forever on some days. I once asked him, do you ever get scared coming to school by yourself.  He flipped back […]

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Tuesday morning, I scooted my way into school just before sunrise and from the start, I got little signals that the day would bring something different. For example, I fumbled in the dark to get my key into the lock on the school’s front door. Then, fingers of sunlight extended across the pre-dawn sky and a […]

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I sat across from a row of kindergarten boys in the lunchroom today. They came skidding in along the linoleum and then went piling onto bench seats. I watched as they popped open lunch boxes. All of them waved but they didn’t want to talk. Time to eat! I knew most of their names as […]

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Monday. I find myself in the midst of a rough start that raises questions and casts shadows on the afternoon’s prospects. So, I retreat to the kindergarten room where I hope to find peace as the light dims elsewhere. Children are deep in their work so I sit down at one table to join a […]

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Fights begin with time and place. So, how about Tuesday? Lunch recess. Center basketball court. Then add two boys, Anthony and Marquis, who would face off three minutes before the recess’ final bell. On a mess of a Tuesday, one where kids had to stay packed in classrooms for an entire morning due to heavy […]

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Victor, a first grader, came to school this morning dressed sharp in a bright red shirt, new sneakers and stiff new blue jeans. He bopped more than walked, bounding in rings around his mother who trudged next to him, eyes down on the cracks in the pavement, wearing her weight like a woolen shawl. The […]

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When I got the nine o’clock call from Ms. James’ in Room 209, I knew why she called. “Would you come upstairs and take Francena for a bit? She’s having one of those days. I can’t get my class started.” “One of those days” meant that Francena had come to school full of questions. On […]

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Time for lunch. As always, I walk among cafeteria tables and peer down at what kids have to eat. What they bring and how they lay it out says a lot about who and how they are. For example, red-headed and freckle-face first grader, Derrick, has pulled out a peanut butter, jelly, and wheat bread […]

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A call came in by my direct line that Ms. Erikson’s new second grade student, Benjamin, had run from the room. Last words as he ran through the door: I want my mom! Benjamin’s teacher was a big woman and her chasing days were over. On warm days, her feet swelled. She made a flat […]

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Viviana cries every day. This morning she came to me with wet cheeks. She started early today, said I to myself.  Once sobbing started, she could continue for a long while. What is the matter sweetheart? Between sobs and sucking in air, she told me that Alvin, a square-jawed, pebble–eyed, unsmiling brick of a fourth […]

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