The school I'm teaching at is a charter school that has been set up to offer students gifted in the arts a chance to express those in an educational setting. But more than that we get students who come to our school because of the small class sizes. My largest class is 16 and the smallest is 3. Most of these students have had some sort of trouble in other schools. At least once a day I'll hear a reference to a PO and not the box numbers. I also get a lot of kids that would be made fun of in the traditional schools. Kids who are socially behind, have a form of autism, kids who struggle with their identity, or are just different. Its kind of a cool place to work in because those kids who would be made fun of or beat up at other schools have a safe environment to learn in. It also makes for some interesting exchanges and interactions between students.
The other day we got a new student, Stan (not his real name). You could tell immediately by watching Stan that something was different. He had slicked back jet black hair and look straight out of the 50's with his blue jeans and button up shirt. At first I thought Stan may have been an ESL student but then realized he simply had a disorder that affected his ability to realize social norms.
There's this senior in my American Government class we'll call Stew. Stew's pretty much a thug, always one of the first to chime in whenever the discussion turns to drinking age or the legalization of certain narcotics. But I've started to notice Stew's not that bad of a guy.
When Stan showed up the other day, very quiet, and looking like an extra from Grease , Stew was the first one to go up and talk to him. Stew walked up and went to shake Stan's hand. Stan didn't shake his hand, a serious sign of disrespect. I think Stan was uncomfortable for several reasons already, but I'm sure that Stew being a 6'2" black 19 year old didn't help the socially awkward white 15 Stan. So Stew tried again. This time he said, "This is how this goes. I say my name, shake your hand then you say yours." So Stew put out his hand again and said his name. As Stan began to put out his hand and say his name, Stew grabbed his hand and began a an incredibly complicated series of dats and pounds followed by a bro pat. Stan was shocked. I think the rest of us were shocked even more. But that kid got an A in the gradebook for that day.
Paul "Soulness Confirmed" Murphy