By: Lynda Robinson, Poverty Reduction Taskforce Manager
When I was teaching on the west side of Tucson, a lot of the kids had never been on the east side of the freeway. They didn't know what that looked like. That’s why a lot of high schools talk to their students so much about college, to help them dream.
More often than not I found teachers, school counselors, coaches and administrators were constantly racking their brains, asking each other, “What else can we do that will make a difference in these kids' lives?” And they were tired. They were exhausted and they just didn't have the energy to pour into it like they did when they were younger.
They're working as hard as they can and being asked to do things that really have nothing to do with teaching. That's what drew me to being a school counselor, because I felt like I had more tools at my disposal to be able to help kids, especially kids and families who were struggling.
I heard a lot of students say, “well, I'm going to go into the family business,” which to them meant dealing drugs. They’d say, “that's what we do, and we die young.” I've had students that thought this was their only option. And so what was the point of going past eighth grade? And who cares if they went to high school or not? Because in their minds, this was where they were going to go.
I stopped watching the news because I couldn't bear it anymore. Bad things were happening to some of my students, others were the ones doing the bad things. It's devastating; but we can't stop trying.
The problem with being a teacher and a school counselor is you only see the kids you’re helping for a short time in life. You don't always get to see what the end of the story is. So when you run into a nurse's aid in the hospital and they say, “Oh yeah, you were my seventh grade teacher!” and you see what a bounce back into health and productivity they’ve had, that is so rewarding.
All the people I know that are school counselors are overloaded because we have so many hurting people. The resources are stretched pretty thin. So to have other resources and training provided to the community that would allow more people to be involved is fabulous.
We're looking at a potential event in the fall. We're looking at where we could have the event and how we can come alongside the schools. Another prototype is getting mentoring programs started within the Amphi neighborhood. We also want to draw in some of the churches to be more involved.
This is truly going to be the village that needs to come together and invite kids to participate and families to participate.