Permission To Succeed: It doesn’t take much to inspire brilliance

Tue, Jul 20, 2010

Bruce DeBoer, Editorials

Permission To Succeed: It doesn’t take much to inspire brilliance

Conceivably off topic on this one; perhaps not if it inspires you as it does me.

Like some other southern school districts there is a push for neighborhood redistricting of schools.  If we are affluent we want our children staying in our ‘hood. “Don’t call me racist I just want the best for my kids” – easily understood but hopelessly shortsighted.

I’ve been both very affluent and moderately poor, and I will tell you from experience that poverty is not an easy thing to shed.  It was easier for me because I am educated from a good ‘hood.

Here’s testimony from a teacher.  I copied this from her blog but I’m sure she won’t mind.  Go to Down to Earth Mom for the entire post.

Poverty is a difficult thing.  People who have lived poverty, worked with people in poverty, taught in poverty know that it is a strange and difficult state of being.  It truly gets in your psyche, changes communities, changes thought process, gives a sense of fear, a sense of loyalty and place.  I will give you an example.  I had this student at Sanderson.  He was intelligent.  He was crazy intelligent.  He had a good head on his shoulders, common sense, and the ability to succeed, if only he tried.  He also came from poverty.  One day, after earning a D on an exam, I pulled him aside after class.  I asked him, “What happened?  I know that you know this information.  What is the problem? Is there something going on I can help you with?”

He looked me straight in the eye.  His response took the wind out of me.

“Ms. Fiore, I can’t do well.   I’d be disrespecting the block. You don’t know where I come from.”

I think I paused, took a deep breath, and blinked 10 times before I answered.

“D—–, you are right.  I can’t know. But let me ask you, is this your block?  When you are here, in this school, in this classroom, you are not on the block.  You are on my block.  And here, on my block, you only have to worry about one thing, disrespecting yourself.  You are a smart kid, with real potential. You need to honor that. Many people here and at home, are working to give you opportunities.  Respect them, and yourself, and grab those opportunities.”

I challenged him.

I gave him the permission to succeed.

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