I have been thinking about a former student lately.
I do a landscape painting unit where we spend some time drawing outside on the school grounds. Our school property has a public jogging path that is heavily used. Some of the students will sit in the middle of the jogging path and I go around and ask them not to block the path. In this particular year I had a difficult group and some of them would not budge. Along comes a bicyclist all decked out in bike gear and wrap around glasses. He starts cursing at the students, which was not appropriate or expected. One student jumped to his feet and started yelling back at him. "At least I am not a loser and I don't wear spandex and live in my parents basement!" Along with a few more choice words. "Jack!(not his real name)," I said, " you can't say things like that, you are going to get yourself in trouble someday."
"But Ms S., I know it's immature, but he is a grown up and should know better, but I am just a kid."
Well, true, but the whole interaction it was out of line.
Early last week I learned that this same student, now a junior in high school, had murdered his father by stabbing him to death. I feel devastated. Even though he was a difficult and troubled boy, I kind of liked him.
That is something I hadn't expected when I started teaching: that some students will break your heart.