Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Hate to say I told you so

Some students believe you when you warn them against certain things, like leaving valuables in their lockers. Others need to learn the hard way.

Two students stopped by my classroom after school today within minutes of each other. The first, a senior I taught last year, asked, "Hey, are you going to be here next Friday?"

"Yeah," I replied. "I don't know, I think so."

"Good, can I leave some things in your room and pick them up after school?"

"Of course. What stuff? Your guitar?"

"Yeah, effects pedals and my other gear. I don't want to leave it in my locker."

"Oh yeah, for the talent show, right? Of course."

"Cool, thanks a lot." With that, he left. And the second guy came in, a junior I currently teach. Didn't say anything, just sat down.

"What's up?" I asked.

"My lock's gone."

"Your lock?"

"Yeah. Someone got my laptop. Left my bag there, but my laptop's gone."

He was very quiet about it. Sad. Not angry. Just sad.

Oh man, I thought, how many times have I told these guys not to leave valuables in their lockers? Earlier this year someone broke into one of my girl's lockers and had taken some cash. After that I repeated my warning. Several times. I have a closet with a lock in my classroom, and I often store students' things there. It's where I keep my things.

"Is anything else missing?" I asked.

"My jacket."

"They probably wrapped your computer in it," I said. "OK, listen, why don't you bring in your things from your locker? I'll go see if anyone can help out."

I went down to the security office, asked the dean of students if there's a working camera in my hallway. She clicked through about 20 camera shots in the building. Yeah, it's a fairly large building, but imagine that, 20 cameras are rolling all day, recording evidence. But of course there's no camera in my hallway, one of the main hallways in the building, a hallway with few other classrooms and rarely any security. So, no way of knowing who might have broken into his locker.

So I went back to my classroom. He was there with some friends and a pile of books. "Hey," I joked, "at least they didn't get these novels. Man, that would be a loss."

He tried to smile.

"The only thing we can do is have you fill out an incident report, unfortunately," I said. "But find out from your family if you guys have renter's insurance or something like that. Insurance might cover this kind of loss. Do you know where the dean's office is?"

"No," he said. Of course he wouldn't know where the troublemakers go.

Thinking about it later I realized asking about insurance was pretty dumb. The guy's family lives in section 8 housing. No way they have insurance.

And thinking about it later I wondered, why does this happen to the good kids? This guy comes from the same background as so many students in the school system--poor, African-American, scraping by. But he's such a good guy. Well-mannered. Intelligent, and not afraid to get good grades. Cool, but in his own way, not a member of any groups but a guy just doing his own thing. A reader. A thinker. In fact, the stolen laptop was a prize he had received from some organization honoring young African-American scholars.

And now it's gone.


appopt said...

Thinking about the stolen laptop on my way home, I wondered how much it would cost to replace it. Yeah, the government's sending me a $300 check soon, so I might as well stimulate the economy that way. And so I looked on craigslist, and there are several laptops out there for about $300. Probably stolen. Then a quick check around internet retailers revealed a refurbished model can be had for about $400. Maybe I'll take up a collection.

I don't want this kid to get bitter about life. He's got way too much potential.

A said...

You should set up a Paypal account and I would be willing to pitch in a few dollars.

dbt said...

In as well.

The Husband said...

me too.

ms g said...

Christ. Me too. Despite your inabilty to respond to email.

(in all honesty though--wouldn't it be cool to teach this kid people give a shit? That they'll take your word for it that he has potential?)

Perk said...

I'd contribute, too. Plus I think I get discounts through my company

appopt said...

Wow ... I don't know what to say, except THANKS. I really wasn't expecting anyone to jump and volunteer to give anything. In fact, when I mentioned I might start up a collection, I meant at school. I was going to see how many teachers would pitch in. But now, maybe I need to actually organize something. First, though, let me talk to this student again. Maybe his family does have insurance. Maybe the laptop has luckily reappeared. I probably won't see him today--it's report card pick-up day--so I probably won't post anything on this until Thursday afternoon. Thanks again, and stay tuned. (If you email me on this one, I promise to get back to you ...)

In the meantime, other than perk, does anyone know a way to get a good discount on a quality machine? And, what's this about a paypal account? I had one years ago, but I don't anymore. Do I just set up a personal account or what?

historygrl said...

Yep - just go to and you have to hook up a bank account to it. It takes a couple of days, but then as long as people know your email address, they can then deposit money into your account.

rich the photo guy said...

Count me in.

As a teacherman you may be able to get an academic discount from some retailers.

FresH20 said...

I'm in too.

This isn't the kid whose name starts with a D who I once took camping in the Indiana Dunes is it?

He made very cool art with his walking stick on the beach.

He needs a laptop, as he'll do great things with it.

perk said...

Hey fresh20.. it is the kid you are thinking of. (By the way, I saw your cousin a couple of weeks ago and thought of you.. hope life is good!)

paradoxbomb said...

Count me in.

Bill said...

Someone got me a refurbished laptop that a company had leased from eBay for less than $300. My techie sister installed some stuff, and I'm happy with it. Post oxtosx info and I'm in

appopt said...

One of the only students from my division not to show up with mom or dad for his report card today was the kid whose name starts with a D who had his laptop stolen yesterday. He had great grades, by the way, all A's and B's, maybe a C in history. I'm going to send out an email to all my colleagues about this situation to see if any of them are as generous and kind as all of you who have said you'd pitch in, even though most of you don't know me or my student. Your generosity honestly makes me want to cry. Two of the commenters, by the way, are former teachers at my school, and they remember this guy from two years ago when he was a freshman. Isn't it amazing the kind of impact a good student makes? Now I really want him to know that his efforts are appreciated, not just by his teachers but by strangers who want to see him succeed.

On the other hand, a big part of me wants all this to be a mistake and to have him come in to school tomorrow with his laptop.

Colin said...

I just stumbled on this blog a month ago or so, but I live in Chicago and work with a lot of CPS students, and I'd like to help out if possible. Let us all know if you get a paypal account going for this.