I want to make it clear that I love my job, and I love my students. I wouldn’t trade it, or them for anything. But, how much can one person take before you start to question if what you are doing can make a difference? NCLB scores, tests, demeaning labels, and parents/grandparents who haven’t the faintest clue about how much you really do care for their child. My students are full of hugs, new ideas and excitement, but their homes are also filled with things that would make the average person cringe. One of my students, “Tabitha” obviously does not sleep, eat or bathe at home. She sleeps all day, is always the first one done with snack and lunch and is always asking for seconds, and she generally comes rolling into school looking like shes been run over by a truck. She is a sweet girl, but she has needs higher than the alphabet and counting. I just finished writing comments on her report card. Our district grades A (Advanced), P (Proficient), B (Basic) and M (Minimal). Her behavioral and social skills are all Bs and her academics are Ms. My comments should have said something like “please practice counting and letter/sound recognition” but instead they say, “Tabitha is tired a lot in school, often sleeping for hours at a time….” It is so hard in a society that is so worried about achievement and NCLB to teach in a school like this. I am more concerned about whether my students have a safe place to sleep and food in their bellies than how their scores are. And if your school isn’t up to par, it gets some horrible title like “School in Need of Improvement”. Have they ever thought that MAYBE, we spend each and every day working to improve the LIVES of our students, and that sometimes academics may take a backburner to basic needs? I have another students “Joe”, who is just a wonderful child, smart, kind, the whole 9 yards. But, if you knew what this child was going through at home, you would be amazed he could even put a smile on his face. Joe’s mother dropped he and his 2 little brother’s off with grandma 3 days before school started. She wanted to “get on with her life,” and apparently her kids were getting in the way. As Septmember roles on, mom comes back, pregnant again and is now living with grandma. Through numerous casual conversations with grandma, I find out that Joe has some warts on his rear end that have caused an investigation by Social Services. YIKES! And grandma is worried that Joe’s mom is going to take he and his brothers away because grandma told mom to clean up the “dog s*$@” in the kids bedroom and stop “burning things on spoons.” How this little boy is so positive, sweet and happy is beyond me. Joe, however, hasn’t been in school in 2 days. Well tomorrow is Monday. I love my job, I am just so afraid for my kids.