The Price of Education and Teaching: Part VIII
The ticking bomb burst.
It had been almost thirty days since my challenging student arrived, and she hadn't stopped cursing, crying, kicking, or ranting; the rest of the students were visibly scared, but nobody saw the damage this student was causing, and I'd already talked to half the world about it in hopes of getting some help; I was dreaming an impossible dream, er, nightmare that was very real and potentially dangerous.
One day that the student was absent, I took the opportunity to discuss our experience with the class and told them I could see they were having a hard time. I asked if they wanted to talk or write/draw what they were feeling/experiencing; they chose the write/draw option. I noticed some were a bit concerned, so I told them I would not share the letters with anybody, and that they could use any language they needed to express their feelings. I wasn't surprised at want they wrote/drew. They'd been scared to death the entire month, and some of them said they wanted to cry, run away, die, and that the student was the devil; my heart broke to pieces because I knew exactly what they were talking about.
I sent another letter to the Union President who also happened to be the superintendent's wife, but she did not respond, again. My next choice was to talk to yet another district employee, and he finally told me he'd help and asked when I wanted him to come to campus; I told him first thing in the morning would be fine because that was when she began her tirades. Finally someone had responded!
The next morning, I arrive at school, and when I went to get the students from line, I realized my 'help' wasn't around, so I started walking to the classroom with my students; as usual, the student started screaming and calling me names. When stopped just before going into the classroom, the student started calling me the worst names in the books then began to approach me; I tried to distance myself from her, but she got even closer and started kicking me as her mother was showing up. Mom asked her to stop, but the student didn't listen, then I saw the mom turn around and leave; I wanted to scream so she would come back but didn't want to scare the other students anymore.
After mom left, I asked the rest of the students to go into the classroom while I spoke to the other student just outside the door, but the student grabbed me and bit my two hands. At that point I asked a teacher that was just behind us that my student had just attacked me, and I needed somebody to watch my class. She said she'd take her class inside and come back. During the time my colleague was out of sight, my student refused to go in the classroom but grabbed me by the collar, punched me, and threw me against the door shelves. When the teacher came back, I was bleeding and possibly crying, but I can't remember the crying for sure.
I walked through the workroom to go to the principal's office but met the school nurse instead; she saw me bleeding and upset and asked what had happened. I told her briefly about the incident and she made a racist remark then said: Oh, it's just a child's bite; don't worry about it.
It wasn't enough that she made the stupid remark first, but to say not to worry about a child's bite really made my blood boil over.
In the office, I asked the manager for the camera, but she 'didn't know where it was;' they always watched it like a hawk! So I proceeded to the principal's office; he was looking at his computer and kept doing so even after I knocked gently on the door and said: one of my students just attacked me, and I'm bleeding and another teacher is watching the rest of my class. Somebody hit this guy with a rock! He neither moved nor looked at me and stayed staring at the damn computer, so I repeated what I'd said. After I got his no-response for the second time, I washed up and told my colleague I was going home.
I later learned the student remained in the classroom the entire day, and was moved to another teacher the following week, but over the weekend, I went out to eat some pizza, and a kid yelled: that's the teacher X beat up!! I guess I'd skip dessert. The next day I go to Costco, and I saw this person pointing at me, but her partner elbowed her! As I got closer I realized it was the school nurse! I guess she deserved that elbow.
The following week after recess, and when we were having ELD, English Language Development, some students told me their teacher had told them to stay away from X student because she'd bitten Mrs. Gallegos; way to go, model 'teacher!'
The principal asked me to take all the time off I needed. Wow, thank you!
Needless to say, I was an emotional wreck for months, and that horrible memory lives with me to the present. When I went to the district for some papers, the Assistant Superintendent told me she was sorry she couldn't do anything to help me, but she gave me her 'personal guarantee she'd send someone to talk to my students.' It's been over twenty years since the incident, and my former students are still waiting for delivery of this 'personal guarantee....'
A couple of years after the incident I saw my former student's mom on campus, and she was completely different toothless, and clueless, too, and had a new baby boy. Oh, boy!
Because of marriage challenges, I ended up in a Women's Shelter when my daughter was three years old, but, fortunately, my boss allowed me to continue working even though I'd be driving over forty-five minutes each way, drop off my daughter, go to work, pick her up from the nanny, and drive back to the 'shelter' where we were expected to go to therapy, provide our own child care, do our assigned chores, sleep in ice-cold rooms because it was more important to make the house look good for inspectors than it was to keep our small children warm and healthy. And I got no support, because, as a teacher, I had 'resources.' Then the director/advisor started measuring the food we ate; a mom with three teens couldn't take this and left; a second one followed; then it was my turn, back to my hell till I found I bigger hell and finally got my own home, but I always kept working and taking care of and loving my daughter....