Class Roster

[written in Baltimore, MD, while teaching English in a Baltimore City Public high school]

If my class roster listed trauma instead of names, a sampling of it would read


–of a man in prison since she was born.
–of a man who just tried to strangle her.


–of a woman whose addiction runs her life.
–of a woman who chose not to be a mother after all.




While I’m glad that my kids are identified by their names and not their misfortunes, I resent that my job description is To Teach Students To Improve Their (Vastly Below Grade Level) Reading And Writing Skills Without Consideration To Their Circumstances. Because I DO consider their circumstances, their stories, their states of mind and souls; I don’t know how not to. But given the effort I need to put into their education, I fear that my students don’t fully grasp the extent to which I love, respect and admire them for all that they endure, and for the grace with which so many of them do it.

If it was up to me, they’d be called their character:






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