I have been working at Escape Ministries’ Alternative Suspension Accountability Program (ASAP) for several months now. I would never have dreamed this is what God had planned for me when I started taking classes two and a half years ago, but now I cannot imagine working anywhere else!
One of the first lessons I learned working with my students is that they are not really any different than the students in the regular education classroom. Sure, they have taken weapons to school, sold drugs, been in fights, etc, but when it comes right down to it, they simply want to be appreciated and know that they are important to someone–especially to an adult that is in their life. Often these students come from broken homes and have some pretty sad situations at home whether it be simply due to poverty or poor choices on the parents’ part.
Respect is one of the first gifts I try to give these students–that and my trust. I want them to know they start with a clean slate in my classroom and I expect the same from them. It is amazing to watch them transform in the first few days as they realize I really do respect and trust them! For some, it is the first time in their whole life they have had respect and trust from anyone, let alone an adult. It has blown my mind the way they change and warm up to me in those two or three days.
Unfortunately, not all the stories end with success and I am having to learn that I can’t change everyone. It breaks my heart when I see one of my students fall back into his/her old ways and end up in trouble with the law. I have begged the Lord over and over for some to care as much about their education as I do but sometimes the answer is no–or at least not yet. It hurts to see such smart, potential young people walk away from an education that could open up so much more for them than gang life and prison. But, I need to place them in God’s hands and trust that He had a purpose for our paths to cross. Who knows, maybe a seed was planted or I watered the seed someone else planted and God will cause it to grow later.