Sunday, March 29, 2009
This is a picture of Teddy Roosevelt. Interestingly, it was taken just before a would-be assassin shot him in the chest. The bullet actually shot a hole in his speech, and went into his chest. What did Roosevelt do, you ask . . . he went on and gave the speech, and then went to the hospital.
I will have to admit that I might not actually be able to have the Hobo convention that we have talked about, and I might not be able to revive the Bull Moose party, but there was something I was going to ask for your help with.
Most of you know that I am a first year teacher this year. I left the rat race of Silicon Valley to move to a remote area in West Texas to teach High School. I had told you earlier that I had one class of really troubled kids. These kids had trouble at home, trouble at school, and trouble with the law. I taught them how to make WEB sites, and they built a great one (http://www.picture-indian.com/). Many of you visited the site, and they got many hundreds of email congratulating them on their work. This literally changed their lives. They learned that they could be good at something. I am happy to say that half the class is now signed up for college, and I am committed to getting the other half signed up before this school year is out. (Kudos to Paige R., the school Councelor)
I am so proud of the progress that each of these young people has made. In particular I am proud of Dustin, who came into the class with the most baggage. Dustin came up to me recently and told me that he had seen where a Utility Company was sponsoring an Essay Contest, and several winners would be chosen from around the country for an expense paid trip to Washington DC to see all the monuments and sites. He said he was not a great writer, and would not be able to win, but he wanted to know if I thought he should go ahead and enter anyway. I looked at the application, and then I asked him who he thought would win the contest. He said the person that was the smartest, and wrote the best. I told him that the contest would not be won by the person who was the smartest, and would not be won by the best writer. I told him that the contest would be won by the person who worked the hardest, and that such contests are won by people who throw their heart into their writing. I told him that he could not control how smart he is, and he could not control how talented of a writer he is, but he could control how hard he worked, and how much heart he wrote with. The Essay was supposed to be about Alternative Energy. I told him if he told his personal story, and he put everything he had into it, he could win. Well, he took my words to heart. For the next week he came in before school, over lunch, and after school. He would write, and change, and write and change. He would ask people if they liked this or that word better. He worked right up until it was time to mail the essay in.
I did not think much more about it, but this last Friday, I was teaching a class, and in the middle of class, Dustin burst into my room. As he was running up to me, I could see tears in his eyes. I knew that either his mother has been hit by a train, or he had won the contest. He came up to me and could not even talk he was so choked up. He just handed me the letter announcing he had won.
Dustin was so proud of his essay, he wrote a few introductory words, and then posted it on our WEB site. You can
While this is a huge victory, it does create some challenges. The Utility company pays for all the expenses of the trip, but it indicates that students should bring plenty of money for incidentals. The other challenge is that the other students from across the country that will be attending, I am sure, are from a different socio-economic background. The clothes that Dustin has are not ones a young man would be proud of in a group of city kids from family's with means. The third challenge is that Dustin has a summer job this summer to allow him to save for his college expenses in the fall. This trip will take him away from this job for a week, that puts a hole in his budget for the fall.
I have always emphasized with Dustin to take ownership of his own future, and to make his own way. He has tried hard, but opportunities are few in this small town. Dustin has worked to make his own opportunities. On the weekends, he goes out and chops wood. He then sells the wood to people to burn in their fireplaces. He delivers it to their home, and stacks it neatly for them. The challenge here is, firewood is a seasonal job, and firewood season is pretty much over. Dustin has found a minimum wage job for the summer, and he has committed to save all the income for college.
If you feel led to work with me to help Dustin, you can use the link below to make a contribution. The donation will come to me, I will collect it up, and then in about a week, I will present it to Dustin. If the generosity is such that it exceeds his needs for clothes and incidentals for the Washington trip, we will apply the remainder to his college expenses.
(charge will show up as to email@example.com, which is my paypal account)
I appreciate your consideration, and know that asking for this help is not something I do lightly. I know times are tough, and know that many simply are not in a position to help, but my hope is a few might be able to help.