education, parenting, special education

Island of Misfit Toys

You remember the scene from Rudolf, right? The train with square wheels, the polka dot elephant, and the Charlie-in-the-box, all stuck on an island because they didn’t have a home.

My classroom is that island. Through no fault of their own several of my student have lived through drama, situations, and scary life events that many of my friends will never know or dream. Recently I looked across a group, I had a Superman X-ray moment, seeing through to their pain and anger. If I could have taken a snapshot of that moment of a small group, the picture would have been covered in tears, blood, sweat, and ice.

Single parent. Divorce. Homeless. Legal troubles. Drugs. Tattoos. Legal guardians. Death. Abuse. Piercings. Couch hopping. Failing. Alcohol. Sex. Suspensions. Disability. Loneliness. Anger. Hurt. Depression. Heartache.

Yet here they were working together to help fund a program that they believe in, helping support special needs students in academic and social situations. Comments such as, “I’ve never felt a part of something, until now”, “I’m helping —- be a friend”, or “I just feel good helping out” are just a sampling of student interest. These hardened kids, struggling through their own life junk, come together daily and volunteer to support others. The kids they are helping do not see the baggage or trouble, they just experience the friendship and support.

Perhaps it is one misfit island building a bridge to another island. Things are never black and white, as these kids unknowingly teach me every day. Perhaps as teachers and humans, we need to remember to look within each child to see who she or he really is. Look past the angry eyes, hardened smile, piercings, baggy pants, or crude demeanor, someone is there.

As Atticus reminds Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird , “you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them”.

Photo credit wizbangblog


1 thought on “Island of Misfit Toys”

  1. Amen. Thanks so much Julie for all you do for these hurting young people. If there is ever anything I could do to help you let me know.


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