When it came time to do my student teaching, the supervisor from the university suggested a high school in the neighboring town in a district known for its well behaved, high scoring, white students. I rejected his suggestion and requested the school on the opposite side of our town where the kids are poor, less well behaved, and minority. Although I got what I wanted, it made my supervisor very uncomfortable. He visited my classrooms twice and then told me he wouldn’t be returning as the students were very badly behaved. They weren’t. As I continued in the teaching profession, years later I would see students who made those first ones look like scholarly angels. I kept wishing that university supervisor could see what I was doing now.
My passion has always been for the less fortunate, the ones with fewer opportunities, the ones who live where many refuse to go. I want to change the world for everyone and that’s why I wanted that school across town for my student teaching assignment. When I recently wrote about a conference I had attended, City Summit 2013, DJan asked how I would be using the information I had gleaned from the workshops. The same way I have been using the information I have gathered for the past twenty five years, to build on my experience and my ability to help others. I want as much knowledge as I can get to use in all that I choose to do.
I have read many books over the years, attended many conferences, presented to many groups, taught in an inner city school, lead in an inner city church, cooked for a women’s shelter, raised awareness for a number of local organizations that help the poor, the downtrodden, the less affluent, all the time wanting to learn more about how to do a better job in making a difference. Terry and I have also volunteered in San Francisco, at Glide Memorial, Year Up, Emerge, and Rebuilding Together San Francisco. While living in San Francisco, the homeless were camping right below our apartment and so I packed meals and distributed them as I walked the streets.
My goal, upon retiring from the inner city high school, was to work for a nonprofit in San Francisco, helping those in need. I applied to every organization that had a job listing where my skills could be used. I got one interview out of the whole lot and was told I would be bored. Finally, I gave up, left San Francisco, and returned to volunteer in Fresno where the unemployment rates are high, the poverty rates even higher, and the needs are overwhelming. But, our home is paid for, unlike in San Francisco where the rent on our tiny studio apartment was $2400 a month, so I don’t need a salary. There are many agencies to whom I can give my time and skills.
This is a bit of advice I follow: Do not lose heart,; do not become faint. When you seek to perform a good work that God asks of you, you will always find an ample supply of God’s grace to sustain you.