Coming from a family of small-town high school quarterbacks and cheerleaders, high school was always built up to be a magical time of pep rallies, football games, and the rigorous academics that would inevitably prepare me for the world of college.
When I began high school, my educational trajectory seemed to match this, or at least mirror this as closely as it can when you attend a small Christian school in the city.
Freshman year, I was a volleyball player, a cheerleader, and a straight A student, dating the co-captain of the varsity basketball team. Everything seemed to be going well for me. I had big plans to graduate as valedictorian of my class and go on to Berkeley or Standford for pre-med, and to eventually become a neuro-surgeon.
But God had different plans for me.
In the middle of my sophomore year, the “excrement hit the ventilation system” within my family and my life took a sharp left turn.
Within the span of six months, my family fell apart for the second time in my life as my step-dad and siblings packed a U-Haul and left my mom and I alone. My step-dad had always been the stabilizing force in our family and without him there, my mom and I drifted apart– only acknowledging each other when we were slamming doors or screaming in each others direction. Eventually, the arguments escalated and I was kicked out of my mom’s house, left to couch surf for most of the summer between my sophomore and junior years.
That summer, I spent nearly my whole vacation crying, drinking cheap alcohol, and engaging in activities that to this day, I am too ashamed of to mention here.
As my life shattered around me, my big dreams and my passion for knowledge faded away. I became depressed and began putting myself in dangerous situations, in hopes that someone would “just put me out of my misery”.
The only thing that seemed worth living for was my goofy two year old god-daughter, and luckily when I was kicked out of my house, her mom, one of my closest friends, let me sleep in their living room. But even then, there was a problem…
My friend, like myself, was not in the best emotional state; Living in an abusive relationship, with the ghosts of her past haunting her, she resorted to drugs and alcohol to bandage her wounds, and together we nearly became a lethal combination.
But through all of the chaos, her sweet little girl kept me semi-grounded.
Eventually my friend’s substance abuse became such a problem that she was incapable of taking care of her daughter. So when she would get plastered, I would stay up and take care of her little one; reading stories, tucking her into bed, and often cleaning the house so she would have a safe place to live. Slowly, that little girl gave me a purpose in life and pulled me out of the wretched depression I had been living in.
As summer began to draw to a close and the beginning of the school year approached, I found out that the school I had been attending had closed unexpectedly, leaving me without anywhere to go for my junior year of high school.
One night as I laid on my friend’s bed, sobbing, trying to figure out whether to drop out of school and get a job, or to find a new school, my little “saving grace” clambered up on the mattress, laid across my stomach, and smiled.
“I love you”, she cooed in her goofy baby voice. In that moment as she snuggled up on my stomach, it hit me– I knew that if I didn’t change my path, I was going to die. Maybe not that day or even that year, but I was actively ruining my life. And with those sweet little brown eyes looking up into my mine, I knew that if I didn’t work to give myself, and her, a better life, that she would inevitably grow up in this hell hole, with no way out, and no one to look up to as a role model.
Over the next few days, I packed my belongings and convinced my mom to let me move home. The next few weeks were rocky and we fought more than ever. One day an argument between us exploded and ended with me screaming “I’M LEAVING!” right as she screamed “GET OUT!”
That rainy July afternoon as I hopped on my bike and peddled away from my home, aimlessly toward Colfax, God changed the entire course of my life.
Bawling my eyes out, silently screaming at everyone and no one, I missed my turn and was lost, but I didn’t care. I continued peddling up and down the side streets, replaying what had just happened and trying to calm myself down.
Finally I got my bearings and began heading back toward Colfax. One block from my destination, I glanced over my shoulder and saw a square white sign in the window of a building that read “Denver Street School — East Campus” in giant purple letters. At the time, school was the last thing on my mind, but knowing that I still had a choice to make about my future, I memorized the cross-streets before going on to borrow a phone from a lady at a bus stop.
A few days went by, things calmed down, and I went back to living with my mom. By then, I had researched this “Street School” and found out that they had a nursery– which was perfect, as I was still taking care of my friend’s daughter the majority of the time. I was sold on the idea of trying out this new school and by the end of July, I was enrolled at the Denver Street School.
The first day of school came and within a month of beginning school at DSS, things began to change drastically in my life.
On September 12th, 2007 I came to accept Jesus Christ as the Lord of my life, mostly due to the tender, loving mentoring and Godly influence of my teachers.
In the seven months that followed, I went on to complete two full years of high school in one, allowing me to graduate a year early in May of 2008.
Throughout all of that academic chaos, my peers and teachers became the family that I had been missing and supported me through the death of my grandfather and the healing process that I had to walk through due to other traumatic events that had occurred the previous summer.
The Street School taught me your standard “school stuff” like Biology and Trigonometry, but most importantly, they taught me that I mattered– both in their eyes and in the eyes of God– and that I could make something of myself and become the positive role model to my god-daughter that I so desired to be.
Since that first day of school 6 years ago, my former teachers and peers have walked along side me and empowered me when I needed strength to make it through college, loved me when I made stupid mistakes, and showed me the light of Christ when I was lost in the darkness of death and depression that has come in waves over the last several years.
And this year, I been given a new position within my “second family” as a full-time English teacher. Having experienced the darkness that many of these students have, I am elated to have the opportunity to pour love and hope back into their lives.
But you see, the Denver Street School runs on a very small budget, and because I am in the “internship” phase of my teaching licensure, and therefore am an “additional teacher”, there is no money in the budget to pay me a full salary. So I am taking a huge step out in faith and will be raising my own wage this school year, as many missionaries do.
Looking back, I can see each and every moment that God was at work, bringing me to this place.
I can see His patient, loving kindness in my god-daughter; His magnetic personality in the moment that He made me look over my shoulder and see the sign for the Street School in the window; His redemptive power at work in my journey to become the opposite of the angry, broken young woman I once was; and because of all of these beautiful moments, I know that I am exactly where He wants me to be this year.
But I also know that I can’t do this alone.
I am setting aside all of the things in life that tell me that this is an illogical move and am stepping out in faith, knowing that God is going to supply, just as He promises to do in Matthew 6.
So if you are reading this, I am asking you to please pray for me. Raising your own salary is unnerving, but I know that just like God brought me to the Street School six years ago, that He is going to provide in ways that I can’t even fathom. Ways that will glorify Him and allow my students to know that I am 100% in this journey for them, and not the money (or lack there of…)
Or if you’re interested in supporting me financially, you can make a small one-time, or monthly donation, through the “Donate Now” tab on the Denver Street School’s website by clicking here. Simply designate your donation as “Faculty support for Kacy” in the comment section. [The school is a government certified 501(c)3 non-profit and all donations are 100% tax deductible & secure, I promise!]
Whether you are able to support me in prayer or financially, I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart. I know I am standing on the edge of beautiful things and know the Lord is about to blow down walls in my life, and the lives of my students this year.
I will be logging my journey on this very blog and via newsletters throughout the year, so be sure to subscribe to my blog or send me your e-mail so I can keep you updated on the amazing things that God is doing here in Denver at the Street School.
Thank you for your generosity and for allowing me to pour into the lives of my wonderful students.
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?