Tuesday, May 10, 2011

No time to write for pleasure these days...

So much has happened in the last month +, and I've been too busy to write about it! So many topics are swarming around in my head, but today I think I'll write a little bit about how well I've gotten to know my students in the past few months through their special circumstance essays and my letters of recommendation.

In our organization, we have our students write "Special Circumstance Essays/Letters." Basically, these essays are submitted in addition to all of the other application materials to each college and are meant to give some context to each student. They are supposed to tell the story behind the great or sub-par grades or ACT scores as a way to encourage admissions committees to look beyond the numbers. They might also explain a temporary dip in grades or show schools what obstacles these students have had to overcome and how overcoming those obstacles has uniquely prepared them for college. The things I've learned about my students have been amazing and heart breaking. Here's a dumbed down summary:

- 8 of my students have parents or siblings who are addicted to drugs, alcohol, or gambling.
- 7 of my students have been in this country for less than 10 years.
- 11 of them were born outside of the country, most of those are here in the US as refugees
- 5 have parents or siblings with extreme physical disabilities
- 6 have lost siblings or parents in their lifetimes
- 3 have suffered from some sort of depression or anxiety
- 20 have yet to tell me their stories.

Hearing these stories and learning about the situations my students have had to go through has been a profound and overwhelming experience. There is so much pain that I do not think I could ever endure that my students had to experience before they were even in high school. I am amazed that not only have my students survived such hardships, but that they have come out of these experiences stronger and with a fervent desire to go to college and improve their lives. This has shown me that the work that I do is meaningful and worthwhile, and that I cannot picture myself doing anything more important right now.

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