September 16, 2014

Week One: Affirmations

Today was the first class of my Citizen Schools apprenticeship on photography. Since this is my third semester teaching, the jitters are barely there. Instead I'm filled with excitement to get to share my love of photography with another young bunch of students.

And then I saw the news while I was getting ready for work this morning:


Wait. That's my school. MY school.

If you live in Chicago, you're used to hearing about problems on the South Side of the city. Guns. Gangs. Drive-bys. Innocent children killed. Sadly, one can become numb to it all. Largely because for most of us, it seems a world away. And then one day it comes home.

Turns out this was a student I'd taught last Fall. I knew him. For 10 weeks I taught him about photography. And all I can hope is that for the time he was in my class, he felt safe. Happy. Cared for.

So I went to my new class today. Still excited and more purposeful than ever. Today was an affirmation of why I choose to teach for Citizen Schools. These students are at risk. Their environment is tentative on many levels. They don't have the luxuries of academic opportunities like I had. But maybe I can spend an afternoon a week with them for 10 weeks and show them something different. A different way of looking at the world. A world that is beautiful. A world I want them to live in for a very long time.

One of my new students taking pictures with his tablet today.