Tuesday, April 29, 2008

'You've restored my faith in people'

A group of my awesomest juniors sat in my room after school today, waiting for my big announcement. I took a deep breath, and I told them.

I told them that I do a little writing on the Internet, but that I'm anonymous, so don't try to google me.

I told them that I recently wrote about one of my students having his laptop stolen. That I had posted something about hoping to replace the computer.

I told them that there had been an amazing outpouring of support, that in just a couple of days, people--many of them complete strangers--had donated close to a thousand dollars.

I told them that someone I did not know, a lawyer from New York, had emailed saying she would donate a laptop to the cause. I told them that in subsequent emails, I learned that she represented cool rock bands, that her parents had gone to this very school, that, in fact, she was in town for her father's funeral when she offered to donate the laptop. I told them that the laptop wasn't here yet, but the UPS tracking information says it'll be here on Wednesday.

I then told them that there was money to now consider, that I thought half of it should go towards a scholarship fund for D and the other half should go to somehow make their school and/or community a better place. I told them that I had plenty of ideas how the money could be spent, but that I much preferred to have them figure it out, with D in charge.

Then, I handed D a printout of some of the messages written by people who donated money and told him to read them out loud.

He read them all. Slowly. Sounding like he might choke up once or twice. And when he finished, the entire class erupted in applause. The students--D's friends and peers--were genuinely happy for him. They offered their congratulations. One girl turned to me and said, "You've restored my faith in people."

I looked around the room. "So, what do you think?" I asked. "Can you all come up with a positive way to use this money? Possibly a way to make it grow and help even more?"

Yes. Yes. Yes! They wanted to try.

"Unless," I said, looking at D, "unless this guy would rather have all the money for his college fund."

"No," he quickly replied. "I want to do something good with it."

The class cheered again.

Later, he wanted a list of all the people who donated, so he could thank them individually.

"Sorry," I said. "Some of these people want to remain anonymous. And please don't make me separate out who wants to be anonymous and who doesn't. Maybe you can write something, and I'll post it here. But take your time. Collect your thoughts."

Eventually, after everyone left, he stuck around. We talked about how devastated he had really felt when the laptop had been stolen, how upset his family had been, how his mother had wanted to sue the school for not having better security.

"But this whole thing today has really made me think about people and the world," he said.

Eventually, there was a slight awkwardness.

"I just really want to ..." he started.

"Wait, stop," I said. "If you want to say something, do it publicly. But here's the thing: Don't feel like you have to change because of this. I don't want you to all of a sudden not call me jerkface."

"Fine," he said, trying to sound sarcastic, but failing. There was definitely a softness in his voice.

"And another thing," I said, trying to sound mean, but failing. "You better do your homework tonight!"

It was a great afternoon, one of the better ones in my teaching career. And I would like to thank every one of my readers once again for making it happen.

14 comments:

harriet said...

D's restored my faith in people too, as have you. I can't wait to hear what they decide to do with the money. It sounds like it's in excellent hands.

malildude said...

Hey Mr. Appopt. Well I Just want to say thank you. D was really happy today.

Peti said...

Events like these are like little sighs of relief in a world sometimes filled with whys.

Anonymous said...

hey Mr.teacher dude,

you are an amazing person. never have i had or even heard of a teacher that would do so much to help out a student. i tell you, its a great loss to our school when you leave. i feel bad for all the losers that will not have you as a teacher...haha suckers!!!. And well, D., he is an amazing person as well. i felt so happy for him when he received the news. he deserves it.

bye bye Mr.Teacher dude.
Babushka #1

rich the photo guy said...

Damn! Now my keyboard is all wet....

FreshHell said...

What a great ending to the story! I'm happy I was able to help. I'm also glad that D and his classmates understand that the world IS filled with people who care. Sometimes you have to work hard to find them but they're there.

thelass said...

Wow. I am proud to be part of the faith-restoring posse. I really do believe that most people are essentially good and this helps confirm it. Good luck, D! Make us proud!

Karla said...

Wahoo!

I'm so glad it all worked out. I'm glad the kids had a good story to take home from school that day.

I can't wait to hear what they come up with as a project for the money.

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Bill said...

A happy ending and free dating sites. What can I add?

appopt said...

OK, I was going to delete that dating comment, but what the heck? Maybe this is a result of my students finding out about this blog ...

By the way, to the two students who did comment here: You rock!

ImperialDragon said...

Hi D and Mr. P. I believe it's three students that rock.

Anonymous said...

Tears flow every time I read this. Thank you for giving us all hope.

Anonymous said...

Hey Mr. Coolio

I'm pretty sure that you have heard that you are a cool and a caring teacher, but i'm just saying it again. You have restored faith not only in D's life, but also in many other students lives as well. I don't know any teacher who has done any such thing for their student. If it were some other teacher, they would have told D to file a report or something, but they wouldn't do something like you did. I can tell that you have motivated the students in out class to think in a postive way, and to think more about helping others out as well. I just want to say thank you for being such a caring teacher. Our school needs more teachers like you. You shouldn't leave until we graduate. But even if you do, you saved the best class for last :D

Chicken Tikka