I haven’t written about work or my students in a while, and to be honest, it’s because I’m a bit crispy around the edges. By no means am I “burnt out”, but teaching “at-risk youth” day-in and day-out without seeing much change or success is exhausting to say the least.
In the last month alone, I have had students confide in me that they are suicidal, re-addicted to drugs and alcohol, being abused at home, homeless, self-harming… You name it, I’ve probably had a conversation about it with a student lately. Every time I sit and look into the teary eyes of one of my students during one of those talks, my heart splits in two.
I just want to go all “momma-bird” and swoop them up, let them live in my house, so that they can be removed from their circumstances, and love on them… but given the fact that I live in a glorified shoebox, I can’t. And thus, my heart breaks even more.
I know in my heart that God is the only one that can truly rescue my kiddos and deliver them from their circumstances, but sometimes not being able to provide a safe haven for them makes me feel like a failure as a teacher and advocate.
But today I was reminded that I am a part of a safe haven– a place that God led my boss to found and build 29 years ago– The Denver Street School.
This afternoon, my phone buzzed with a Facebook notification from the lovely and talented Kathryn Bronn. Kathryn is an art student who has partnered with the Street School for the last two years. She has provided free senior pictures to our students, free staff portraits for the teachers and faculty, and she has even poured countless hours into the making of a documentary for the school and two music videos. The notification I received today was telling me that this year’s music video had just been finished.
I clicked the link and as soon as I hit play, my eyes started tearing up and I swear I felt like I had butterflies in my heart.
The teenagers in the video below aren’t just my students– they are my kids… and they’re “playing” because they know that they’re at home.
There are felons, drug addicts, and current and former gang members singing in this video. There are kids that have been thrown out of their homes and have lived on the streets dancing. There are girls who have traded their bodies for love and acceptance, only to be crushed, giggling, and boys who have suffered unspeakable abuse smiling.
This video was a perfectly timed reminder that God is doing something in each and every one of their lives… Even when I don’t see the daily changes, I can rest in confidence knowing that He brought them into the DSS family for a reason and that He loves them more than I ever will.
Thank you Kathryn, you are a beautiful soul and I am beyond thankful for the work that you have done for our school!
11 You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
you have loosed my sackcloth
and clothed me with gladness,
12 that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!”