This morning, I was driving to work listening to Tony Danza’s book on tape (which I highly recommend for teachers and gentiles alike). He was talking about the Haiti crisis, and I was reminded of where I was on that day in 2010.
The Charter School where I taught was taking donations to fund the relief effort. Some of my students scoffed as the ASB representative came in to collect. Others in the back where chatting about the upcoming dance. One was drawing.
I took all the change out of my drawer and some cash from my wallet and stuffed it in the jar. At this point in the year, my students knew that I wasn’t flaunting, but trying to model for them. I could have stepped outside to donate privately, but… whatever. They need to know that it’s important.
Angel was a quiet first-generation English speaker who had recently been revealed as ROCKET, the graffiti artist terrorizing books and bathroom stalls.
“Mr. Vaudrey!” Angel calls from the back row. “Do you think we should give money to Haiti?”
All at once, the class falls silent.
All 31 sets of hands immediately stopped what they were doing and 31 pairs of eyes were fixed on me, still standing at the front of the class after the ASB rep left.
I took a deep breath.
“If I were hurting,” I begin, my eyes unexpectedly filling with tears. “I’d want somebody to come to my rescue.”
I’m getting choked up now just writing this and thinking about what an awful day that was for the hundreds of thousands of Haitian people.
I really hope that those students heard me.