I have a student who really inspires me, and reminds me how important it is to hold onto my sense of humor in the face of adversity. We’ll call her April…it’s close enough to her real name. Quiet and unassuming, she had been my student before, when she was incarcerated about seven years ago. When she returned last year, she had undergone such shocking changes that I barely recognized her. After a serious motorcycle accident which claimed the life of her fiancé, as well as her right leg, I found her in a corner of the dayroom, in a wheelchair. She is here, this time, for a thankfully short bit for auto theft. She tells me, sheepishly, that she was caught because she left her prosthetic leg in the vehicle. When I was finally able to stop laughing and collect myself, we decided to tell people that her leg was lost in a shark attack, just to see their reactions.
I will say one thing, she is a true pro in that wheelchair, zipping around, doing wheelies and other tricks. But most of all, she is an enthusiastic student, who still comes to class every day neatly dressed, with her hair and makeup done. Life threw her one heck of a curveball, but she caught it and kept going, still sharing her smile and her laughter with those around her. I see her meet challenges head-on, indulging in tears when she feels compelled to do so.
Thank you, “April,” for reminding me how to laugh and inspiring me to keep rolling…
Now get to that algebra homework!