Today, we all go back to our schools and into our respective buildings and classrooms. The service and celebration of Dr. King is well in our rear view mirrors. The parades are done. The costumes are put away and the paths to community service are already showing signs of diminishing numbers. Today is just another ordinary day. Yet, today can be a day that leads to extraordinary if we so choose.
In my “spare” time, I get to speak to teens about their educational journeys. We talk about their perceptions of the way that the world works and how they can make their mark. All of these students are young black children who feel alienated in their own school environments. No one sees them for who they can potentially be. Instead, they are seen and judged based on how others view them now.
They are children of poverty from difficult backgrounds. They have gaps in learning and even more in social skills. At the same token, if one were to actually invest in learning who these children were…they would see that they are amazingly brilliant perceptive thinkers…who just want a chance to be great. They want to be seen in a world that refuses to see them.
As we talked about Dr. King’s legacy yesterday, I was reminded about the importance of kids seeing representations of themselves in multiple forms. These kids go to school and are taught by people who have zero grasp of their background. They go home, in some cases, to more chaos than imaginable. There is no outlet…no chance…no view beyond what IS.
Their normal is not a celebration of Dr. King’s legacy. Their normal is the exact opposite of that.
Today, I challenge you to take King’s legacy of love and understanding into your classrooms. Find ways to help each child, even the most difficult, find their paths to understanding and growth. You may not have the direct connection to a child’s background but by seeing them for who they can potentially be and believing in them enough to get there…you can make an impact on them in ways unforeseen.
It was Dr. Rita Pierson who said that every kid needs a champion. Focus on the word, EVERY. They all deserve someone who will love them unconditionally. Love them enough to reach, support, challenge, praise and do all of those things even when they fight the process themselves and they will.
Every child can be reached in some way, shape or form. Our goals must be to find the path to reach them even in spite of them. Only then can they be truly “seen” for who they are and can potentially be.