Middle School Hero

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Sep 25 2012

Memories of the mundane

I’ve been alive for almost twelve million minutes. Twelve million individual, sixty second snippets of existence. Some of those moments have been unforgettable, like winning state championships and receiving acceptance letters and getting invited to Pi Phi’s fall formal by Stephanie Bentley freshman year. Other moments have slipped quietly into oblivion, moments spent sleeping or driving or waiting in line at the ATM. And then some moments stick, not for any particular reason or merit, but because they come to invariably define my life in that particular moment.

For no particular reason, I will always remember talking to Morgan Hellwig outside of the LMS cafeteria after our final performance of Grease during my senior year of high school. I will always remember walking down University with the sun warming my back and putting a smile on my lips during the first days of fall during my junior year of college. And, for whatever reason, I’m constantly reminded of listening to music and lying in Tony Schroeder’s bed while watching his little brother play Playstation. All these moments happened years ago, but they have stuck with me because they meant something, not in and of themselves, but on some greater indicative level.

I’m being absolutely overwhelmed with that feeling right now. It’s 8:30 PM and I’m still at my school. Tonight, my softball girls won the Queens of the South softball tournament and after the game I headed back to my room to grade some papers. It’s almost two hours later and my car sits lonely in the parking lot. Day has turned to evening has turned to dusk has turned to night and here I sit, at a student’s desk at Roosevelt Middle School on the south side of Oklahoma City, trying to figure out ways to change the lives of 150 wild, searching, hormone-addled kids that I have developed a desperate, consuming affection for.

I’m all at once a mediocre teacher, an idealistic movement maker, college titan, and lonely 22 year old trying to make it through each day. As I look out my window at our school’s lone streetlight, I am all these things and more. I am struggling and pushing each day, not only with my students or my district, but with myself. I can feel myself changing, wanting to grow but unsure of in what way or in which direction.

One of the reasons I’m doing TFA is because I thought it would make me into the person I most wanted to be in two years. I could have traveled or I could have found an office job or a grad school fellowship. I would have grown through those experiences, but TFA gave me the opportunity to grow in ways that were simply not otherwise possible.

So here I am, exactly where I prayed and fought and strove to be. And in some ways it’s a new surprise each and every day, but in others it’s exactly what I thought it would be. But that doesn’t change the fact that I, like Whitman, am large; I contain multitudes. There are all these different Daltons within me right now, each growing or fading with each day as my superego and id crash over each hour of time that I’ve been granted.

I guess that’s why this moment stands out to me. In the waning light, I can see all of myself laid out, bare in a moment of rare solitude. I can see my life stretching in myriad different directions. I can see The Person I Want To Be off in the distance, farther away now more than ever. I can see all the doors of my life opening and closing as one and I can see everything in my life that led to this point.

I can’t explain what this experience has meant to me so far. I can’t tell you how I’ll look back on this experience in five years. But I can tell you that this moment right isn’t one that I’ll be forgetting any time soon.

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Chronicling teaching middle school English in OKC

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