Thursday, March 29, 2012

long time no see. {ramblings}

For reals, long time.

So long story summed up into 4 words: it has been crazy.

I have so much on my mind and in my heart right now that I need to get it out (and you know, why not do it on a public forum.....)

I am exhausted.

Mentally, physically...emotionally.

I love my students this year, they have been angels compared to some of the (uh hum) heathens I had last year. But in all honestly I love all my angel or not, they all have a place in my heart.

And I'm beginning to think that might be why I am so tired. On any given day, I have at least 10 students who are not currently in my class come and sit and chat and high five and hug and write on my board and mess with my desk and use my computer and store stuff in my closet and ask for jolly ranchers and need a pencil and......

I love it. I do. Because that means that I did something right by these kids. That they trust me for some reason. That they know that I am still there for them.....

But I also see 152 current students everyday as well. And they want to do all those things also. But I have to educate them, too. But I want to talk to them. But they have to pass TAKS. But we have to move on.....

I have 5 dads this year. It's weird. I am not a parent, but 5 of my guys are fathers. One of my girls is a mom.

I call the students who were lucky to be my first students "my babies." And my babies are graduating this year. I have, I'll admit, on a number of occasions cried when I think about them leaving school.

I have wept.

I have tearfully prayed.

I have encouraged, and scholarshiped, and applied, and checked grades, and recommended, and busted balls, and yelled, and fist bumped, and texted, and FAFSA'ed, and counseled my babies.

I cried on the way home because I am so overwhelmed with my students' lives.

5 dads. 1 mom.

One of my babies thinks she's pregnant.

Another one brought drugs into my car this week when I took him to driver's ed.

Some are being cyber bullied while the others are the bullies.

One is in alternative.

One has dropped out.

One is in and out of jail.

One's mom left her...again.

One's dad wrote her letter saying he has disowned her because she is gay.

I hate to always write about the bad. About the sorrow and the sadness I feel for these kids. But my heart beats for them. I can't wait to talk to them. To see how their day is going. To hug them. To high five them. To teach them. To laugh with them.

But at the same time, all of this has become too much. I am too close with too many and it's too much.

I am overwhelmingly exhausted.

I have resigned my position at my school for the upcoming year. I need a break. I need a regrouping of sorts.

I am sad to leave my students behind but I am glad to be getting away.

So I will be giving it my all these next 9 weeks if it kills me. I gotta make sure that they will be ok when I am not there.

I gotta to make sure they know that I love them.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

School's out...for the summer????

Well, sort of.

Tomorrow I am tutoring a kid for the GED. He left Burges after the first semester last year and went to Sunset which is a credit recovery school. I messaged him a little while ago to see if he was graduating. This was his reply:

  • "No I got out like 2 months ago i wouldn't go to school so I'm getting my ged and hopefully going to school in august and then ill be ok and do better

Sorry I let you down also"

I was heart broken....let me down? My poor student! I told him I would help in any way. Did he need me to drive him to school? Help him sign up for a GED class? Anything. He is a bright kid and this is just another example of a kid not having a chance - his family situation is the worst. It's just not fair.

When I met him, he reminded me of two of my good friends, Angel and Antonio. He would be best friends with them if he was their age - seriously, this kid is HILARIOUS!

We talked alot about him going to Spain and going to school for architecture (because that's where Angel and Antonio live). I showed him schools he could go to, scholarships he could get. I helped him pass his exit level TAKS test and we were all set. Then this year he started just not coming to school. at all. ever. Then he went to Sunset. And then finally he dropped out.

I have a teacher facebook page so I can message my students class reminders, and lets be honest, I stalk them a bit. I signed on today and had a message from him asking me to help him study for the GED. I was elated! Way to take the initiative, my friend! So tomorrow, I will pick him, take him to Starbucks (he once wrote a letter to Mikell telling him I was cheating on him with Starbucks) and we are going to work through a practice GED test.

I asked him what time he would like to meet and he said let's not wake up too early, lets meet at 1. Typical teenage boy.

But that will not end my school day tomorrow. I had very few seniors this year and out of those very few only 1 is going away to college. And I believe that that is something to be celebrated. So, tomorrow, after I tutor 'ol boy, I am meeting with her to talk to her about college. Maybe tell her a few things I wish someone had told me before I went. I am just so happy and proud of her. She got a $40,000 scholarship to St. Mary's in Austin, TX. She has a strong faith and a good head on her shoulders. I just want to make sure she keeps it there :)

Again, maybe I am crossing a line with my kids. And at some point I feel like maybe this could get me into trouble. But I'm okay with that. Because I know that they need me. They need the support they don't get at home. And I will be here to give it to them. No matter what.

I come from a place where my life, my parents, my friends, my morals are a world away from the way it is here in El Paso. This place is super broken. My place was not. So if I can bring my place into theirs, if only for a moment, then I think I have succeeded.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Live. Love. Teach.

I got this water bottle last week from a FANTASTIC lady who came on a build over spring break. She is younger than me and an intern at a college ministry but she had this water bottle because she has an education degree. We talked about my kids and the struggles of teaching in a border town and all that fun stuff..... I told her in passing that I loved her water bottle and will have to get myself one....

Well, last week was quite honestly one of the worst weeks ever. EVER. I have gotten 8 new kids since Spring Break. One of them doesn't speak English ... at all. AND on top of all that madness I am held accountable for their test scores. Oh ok, thanks. They were terrible.

On top of that, I have two kids that have more than over 250 absences. Thats right - 250!!! Granted, each day counts as 7 absences but thats the equivalent to about 6 weeks of school. And again, I am held accountable for their test scores. Fantastic.

I am just tired. Tired of the politics. Tired of babysitting teenagers. Tired.

So on Saturday when I received her lovely package it was just enough encouragement to make me not want to die when thinking about going to school.

But. today feels a little like last week. I was 20 minutes late to work because there was a fatal wreck that shut down a major road which made all my roads SUPER crowded. My kids are already tired of TAKS review and we have three weeks left.

And Mikell is gone...again.

So all in all, this is has been a pretty crummy Monday, and tomorrow will probably not be any different.

And I will continue trying to look at this water bottle and remember why I am here. Why I am a teacher and why I love my kids. Because today, it feels a little impossible remember.

Thursday, March 31, 2011


A student asked me to write a recommendation for her yesterday. Of course I said yes but I was honestly FREAKING out.

I cannot write. Ok so maybe I blab on here, but a FORMAL letter? Um, no thank you.

I seriously sweated over it for hours. Typed and re-typed and deleted then re-typed again. I cannot write formally. I can't make her sound generic. I can't make her be a "bright and driven student" and "a pleasure in class". Granted, she is all of these things - but she is so much more than that. So much more.

So this is what I came up with:

To whom it may concern,

I recommend [her] for the IC CAE program. I have had the pleasure of teaching Miss [her] for the past school year.

I have only known [her] for a few months, but she is someone that I will never forget. [She] comes from a place where education might not be the priority. Where “home” is a little broken. And where dinner might not be on the table every night.

But you would never know that.

From the outside [she] seems like every other student; her story, very similar to others. But on the inside there is something much different.

She wants more. She wants more than a passing grade. She wants more than a high school diploma. She wants a life bigger than the one she has now.

[She] would be a perfect addition to your program. She is a quick and inquisitive learner. She has a thirst for knowledge that is almost unquenchable. She would take everything she would learn to heart.

I believe that this would be a sturdy stepping stone for her, an opportunity she wouldn’t otherwise have, and an experience that would resonate with her throughout her life.


Lindsay West

Formal? No.
Grammatically correct? Probably not.
Written well? Not in the least.
Helpful? I hope so.

Because if anyone deserves this opportunity, it is her. And I can only pray that I have helped her get there.

Monday, February 28, 2011

You're Beautiful.

As a christian, I see God as a father. As an all knowing, all providing, all comforting dad who is waiting for me whenever I need him and will love me unconditionally. A Father that will proudly claim me as his and wants nothing more than to have a relationship with me. And we are dotingly called his children.

I see Him as not being too much different than my dad, and probably not too much different from your dad. He is comforter, a problem solver, a mister know-it-all.....sometimes a bank account, a slap on the wrist and long hard look in a mirror. But still a Dad. A warm and fuzzy dream-dad of sorts.

But what if your real dad And then to hear that God is your father???? How are you supposed to interpret that? And understand what kind of love that is??? What if both of your parents suck???

I have a student whose dad is in jail for murder. He has been there for 17 years, has a 25 year sentence, and is supposed to be getting out next year. He told me he felt abandoned, that his dad left him when he needed him the most.....

I have another student who hasn't seen his dad in 10 years and his mom dropped him off one day with his grandparents because she wanted to go live with her boyfriend in another city.....

One of my kids dads is an alcoholic and a drug addict. He told me that he did better in school when he lived with his dad (he know lives with his g'parents) because he was scared his dad would come home and beat him in a drunken/high rage if he had bad grades....

One of my girls moms is leaving her home alone for 5 weeks....

One of my boys from last year parents dumped him off on his brother who now wants nothing to do with him and he is classified as homeless...

One of my girls feels that her mom cares more about her boyfriends than she does her own children...

Alot of my kids don't know their dads....

Alot of my kids hate their moms...

So how do I teach them about unconditional love when all they know is abandonment, denial, rage, and toxicity?

It is a challenge, a hard one. Because I'm not supposed to teach them about love. I am supposed to teach them biology. I am supposed to teach them how to take the TAKS test, but yet my heart is breaking for them.

My heart is breaking because I am scared that if I don't love them the way God loves them that they will never know that love. I am scared that they will walk away and not feel worthy.

My chola handed me a long note today. It was a suicide note. I asked her if she was really thinking about taking her own life and she said no - just that those thoughts had come into her head over the weekend. She had gotten into a fight with her mom and her mother told her that she wished she had had an abortion. She wrote that she wondered if she did die if her mom would even cry.

She wrote that "it don't make sense going to heaven with the goodie-goodies dressed in white. I like black tims and black hoodies. God will probably have me on some strict shit. No sleeping all day. Hanging with the goodie-goodies lounging in paradise. F*** that shit."

I told her that to God she mattered. To me, she mattered. That if she took her own life, that God would cry. That I would cry.

She wrote me another letter a few days ago and it was just the lyrics to Runaway Train.

I wrote her back last night and it is just the lyrics to Beautiful by Mercy Me.

The days will come when you don't have the strength
When all you hear is you're not worth anything
Wondering if you ever could be loved
And if they truly saw your heart they'd see too much

You're beautiful
You're beautiful
You are made so much more than all of this
You're beautiful
You're beautiful
You are treasured, You are sacred, You are His
You're beautiful

I'm praying that you have the heart to find
Cause you are more than what is hurting you tonight
For all the lies you've held inside so long
And they are nothing in the shadow of the cross

You're beautiful
You're beautiful
You are made so much more than all of this
You're beautiful
You're beautiful
You are treasured, You are sacred, You are His
You're beautiful

Before you ever took a breath
Long before the world began
Of all the wonders He possessed
There was one more precious
Of all the earth and skys above
You're the one He madly loves
Enough to die

You're beautiful
You're beautiful
In His eyes

You're beautiful
You were meant for so much more than all of this
You're beautiful
You are treasured, You are sacred, You are His
You're beautiful
You're beautiful
You're meant for so much more than all of this
You're beautiful
You're beautiful
You are treasured, You are sacred, You are His

I hope she realizes that she is worthy of love. Regardless of what her parents tell her. Regardless of what he friends, boyfriend and sister tells her. She is worthy, just as all my students are worthy.

I can only pray that they one day find the love God. And in the meantime, I will continue to try to literally love the hell out of them.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Oh me oh my.

There are days....days like yesterday....that I HATE being a teacher.

And here is why:

Wednesday, I had my students write three possible test questions (with the answers) for their test yesterday. I told them that if I thought they were good questions that I would include them on the test. I thought they would take some pride in it because I also put their names by the questions so they could have bragging rights.



I repeat...they missed their own questions.


Monday, January 31, 2011

James Watson

We started talking about DNA and all that jazz today in class, which to me is incredibly fascinating. So I found a video of James Watson talking about his DNA discoveries and I was in awe. I thought it was witty, informational, and awesome to be sitting listening to the man who discovered the double helix give a talk! I didn't even know he was still alive and then to listen to him talk!!! What a privilege.

Well, I guess the nerd in me was really showing because my students didn't think it was good at all. They actually thought it was boring.


Maybe one day they will look back at this oh-so-incredible education opportunity and realize its value. And see how cool I was to let them watch it ;)