Billy Morse serves on the CSX Team at Northwestern Middle School.
In elementary school, I wasn’t the kid that people paid much attention too. I was shy, didn’t participate in much class. I just blended into the back. I was overshadowed by those around me, and I was okay with that. In middle school, the classes were easy for me. As a result, I was bored in school, and I started hanging out with a rough crowd. They were loud, rowdy and troublemakers. They were more interested in getting money than academics. People started to assume that because my friends were that way, I was also troublemaker and didn’t care about school. It was actually quite the opposite, but I didn’t care what others thought about me.
However, there was a teacher who still cared about me. Mr. Lozano wanted me to succeed. He asked all the time “Why do you hang out with them? You are smarter than this.” He believed in me when no one else did. Mr. Lozano came from a rough neighborhood and he always reminded me that your environment does not determine your success. His story and his encouragement helped me get back on track, wanting to go to college.
I try to be that person for my students. I try my best to work and be patient with the students who remind me of my friends. For a one of my students, I am one of the only people rooting for him.
Michael* hasn’t been in a regular classroom for a few years. He spent a long time at alternative school, as a result of his behavior issues. His first day at Northwestern, he heard my City Year team power greeting and he screamed “could y’all shut up? It’s too early for this!” This was only the start of a rough few weeks for Michael. He would disrupt classes. He would not do his work. Michael spent more time out of class than in it because of his behavior. However, in my class, Michael can sit still and do his work. He trusts me to help him and doesn’t show the same anger when I am around. I see a great potential in him and praise him for his small victories, such as finishing his work and coming to school prepared. He might be a bit rough around the edges but when a rose starts to grow out of the concrete, you nurture it, rather than spray pesticide on it. Someone did that for me once. I will do it for him.
*Name changed to protect student identity.