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从黑帮女到明星老师

2014-01-08byPearlArredondo

疯狂英语·阅读版 2013年12期
关键词:黑帮学区老爸

by Pearl Arredondo

So I grew up in East Los Angeles, not even realizing I was poor. My dad was a highranking gang member who ran the streets. Everyone knew who I was, so I thought I was a pretty big deal, and I was protected, and even though my dad spent most of my life in and out of jail, I had an amazing mom who was just fiercely independent. She worked at the local high school as a secretary in the deans office, so she got to see all the kids that got thrown out of class, for whatever reason, who were waiting to be 1)disciplined. Man, her office was packed.

So, see, kids like us, we have a lot of things to deal with outside of school, and sometimes were just not ready to focus. But that doesnt mean that we cant. It just takes a little bit more. Like, I remember one day I found my dad 2)convulsing, foaming at the mouth, 3)OD-ing on the bathroom floor. Really, do you think that doing my homework that night was at the top of my priority list? Not so much.

But I really needed a support network, a group of people who were going to help me make sure that I wasnt going to be a victim of my own circumstance, that they were going to push me beyond what I even thought I could do. I needed teachers, in the classroom, every day, who were going to say, “You can move beyond that.” And unfortunately, the local junior high was not going to offer that. It was gang-infested, huge teacher turnover rate.

So my mom said, “Youre going on a bus an hour and a half away from where we live every day.” So, for the next two years, thats what I did. I took a school bus to the fancy side of town. And eventually, I ended up at a school where there was a mixture. There were some people who were really gang-4)affiliated, and then there were those of us really trying to make it to high school. Well, trying to stay out of trouble was a little unavoidable. You had to survive. You just had to do things sometimes. So there were a lot of teachers who were like, “Shes never going to make it. She has an issue with authority. Shes not going to go anywhere.” Some teachers completely wrote me off as a lost cause.

But then, they were very surprised when I graduated from high school. I was accepted to Pepperdine University, and I came back to the same school that I attended to be a special ed assistant.

And then I told them, “I want to be a teacher.”

And boy, they were like, “What? Why? Why would you want to do that?”

So I began my teaching career at the exact same middle school that I attended, and I really wanted to try to save more kids who were just like me. And so every year, I share my background with my kids, because they need to know that everyone has a story, everyone has a struggle, and everyone needs help along the way. And I am going to be their help along the way.

So as a 5)rookie teacher, I created opportunity. I had a kid one day come into my class having been stabbed the night before.

I was like, “You need to go to a hospital, the school nurse, something.”

Hes like, “No, Miss, Im not going. I need to be in class because I need to graduate.” So he knew that I was not going to let him be a victim of his circumstance, but we were going to push forward and keep moving on. And this idea of creating a safe haven for our kids and creating getting to know exactly what theyre going through, getting to know their families—I wanted that, but I couldnt do it in a school with 1,600 kids, and teachers turning over year after year after year. How do you get to build those relationships?

So we created a new school. And we created the San Fernando Institute for Applied Media. And we made sure that we were still attached to our school district for funding, for support. But with that, we were going to gain freedom: freedom to hire the teachers that we knew were going to be effective; freedom to control the curriculum so that were not doing lesson 1.2 on page five, no; and freedom to control a budget, to spend money where it matters, not how a district or a state says you have to do it.

So in our third year, how did we do it? Well, were making school worth coming to every day. We make our kids feel like they matter to us. We make our curriculum rigorous and relevant to them, and they use all the technology that theyre used to. Laptops, computers, tablets—you name it, they have it. Animation, software, moviemaking software, they have it all. And because we connect it to what theyre doing—For example, they made 6)public service announcements for the Cancer Society. These were played in the local trolley system. Teaching elements of persuasion, it doesnt get any more real than that. Our state test scores have gone up more than 80 points since weve become our own school.

But its taken all stakeholders, working together. Because why should our students have to go so far away from where they live? They deserve a quality school in their neighborhood, a school that they can be proud to say they attend, and a school that the community can be proud of as well. And they need teachers to fight for them every day and empower them to move beyond their circumstances. Because its time that kids like me stop being the exception, and we become the norm.

我在洛杉矶东区长大,甚至都不曾意识到自己很穷。我老爸是街头黑帮头目之一。大家都知道我是谁,所以,那时我还真把自己当回事了,我备受保护,而且尽管老爸在我成长过程中时常进出牢房,我却有一个非常了不起的母亲,一名非常独立的女性。她在本地的一所中学工作,是学校主任室的一名秘书。所以,她见过所有因各种原由被赶出课堂,准备接受处罚的孩子。天啊,她的办公室总是人满为患。

所以,瞧,像我们这样的孩子,在校外要处理许许多多的事情,有时候,我们就是没那份心思来集中精神学习。但这并不意味着我们做不到。只不过我们要比别人多付出一些罢了。比如说,我记得有一天,我发现老爸全身抽搐、口吐白沫、 因为吸毒过量倒在浴室的地板上。说真的,你认为在这样的一个晚上做作业会是我最先要处理的重要事情吗?当然不是。

但我确实需要一个后援群体,一群愿意帮助我的人,确保我不会成为我自身困境下的牺牲品,他们愿意鞭策我,使我超越自己的期望。我需要老师,在教室里,每一天都对我说:“你能做得比现在好。”但不幸的是,本地的初中无法提供这样的帮助。当地帮派林立,教师流动率极高。

因此,我妈妈说:“你每天要到离这儿一个半小时车程的地方去。”于是,在随后的两年里,我就这么干了。我每天坐校车到镇上富裕繁华的另一边。最后,我就读于一所学生成分多样化的学校。他们中有些人确实是帮派成员,而有些人则是我们这样十分努力想读到高中去的学生。其实,想着法子逃离麻烦是在所难免的。因为你要活下来。有时候,你就免不了做些身不由己的事。所以,也有不少老师这么说:“她一定是读不上去的。她不受管教。她不会有什么出路的。”有些老师甚至认定我无可救药了。

然而,当我高中毕业时,他们全都惊讶不已。我被佩珀代因大学录取了,毕业后,我回到这所我曾就读过的母校,当了一名特别教育助理。

后来,我告诉他们:“我想当一名老师。”

哎呀,他们听到后都说:“什么?为什么?你怎么会想到要当老师呢?”

于是我就在这所曾就读过的母校开始了我的教学生涯。我真的很想挽救更多有过如我这般经历的孩子。所以,每年,我都和学生们分享我的背景故事,因为他们有必要知道每个人都有自己的故事,每个人都有过挣扎,每个人都需要别人在人生道路上拉他们一把。而我愿意成为那个在他们人生旅途上拉他们一把的人。

所以,作为一名“菜鸟”老师,我为他们创造机会。有一天,一名学生走入我的课堂,他在前一天晚上被人刺伤了。

我对他说:“你得去医院,或者找一下学校的护士什么的。”

可他说:“我不去,老师,我不要去。我得来上课,因为我想要毕业。”所以说,他知道我不会让他成为其自身困境下的牺牲品,相反,我们要敦促他们向前迈进和继续前行。 所以,我是想为孩子们营造一个安全的环境,想准确了解他们所经历的困境,想了解他们的家庭——我希望能这样做,但是,在一所学生人数达1600人的学校里我无法做得到。而且,年复一年,这里的老师更换频繁。 你又怎么能建立师生关系呢?

所以,我们创办了一所新学校。我们的新校名叫“圣费尔南多应用媒体学院”。我们要确保仍然挂靠在我们的学区以获得资金和支持。但是,除此之外,我们享有很大的办学自主权:如聘请教师的自由,聘请我们认为高效的老师;同时,我们还拥有课程安排的自由,这样我们就不会按教材上的章节按部就班地教学,不会;我们还可以自由控制我们的预算,将资金花在重要的事情上,而不是花在学区或州规定的事情上。

这样,到了我们办学的第三年,我们的学校是什么样子的呢?呃,我们已经使学校成为了学生每天都想去的地方了。我们让学生们感觉到我们在乎他们。我们的课程严谨且贴合学生需求,他们可以使用其熟悉的各种电子产品。手提电脑、台式机,平板电脑——你能说得出的,他们都有。动画、软件、电影制作软件,这些东西他们全都有。我们将这些东西和他们的学习、生活联系在一起——比如说,他们会为癌症协会做一些公益广告。这些广告在有轨电车系统上播放。关于说服力的教学元素当中,没有什么能比这来得更真实了。自从我们独立建校后,我们的州考成绩提升了八十多分。

但这需要集合各利益相关者一同努力。因为,为什么我们的学生非得到离家这么远的地方上学呢?他们值得拥有一所离家不远的资质优良的学校,一所他们能引以为豪的学校,一所社区也能为之骄傲的学校。而且他们需要每天都为他们而奋斗的老师,需要鼓励他们摆脱困境的老师。因为,是时候要让像我这样的孩子不再成为非主流了,我们要成为主流。

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