I know this is slightly off topic - but since I'm powering through my exhaustion from last night, I felt like it was appropriate. Last night, I had the honor of chaperoning my high school's prom for the second time. And it was quite the honor. First, teachers have to be "invited" to go (mostly because the high cost of feeding us) and second, because it showcased what a unique environment I work in.
In 2000, I went to my own prom, and it was great. I was caught up in my then boyfriend's arms 90% of the night an spent the other 10% of the night posing for pictures with my friends. No where and during no moment do I recall a single interaction with a teacher or did I even want to. Flash forward 11 years to last night. I was like a superstar caught in the paparazzi action of my student's cameras.
Unlike the suburban utopia I grew up in, my students live in an entire different world. Most of them have never dressed up for a formal occasion, some haven't even been to the suburb where the prom was held, even though it is only one town over from the city. Many of them spent the entire year fundraising to pay for their $65 ticket because the price was so far out of reach. We spent the winter helping girls find dresses for free and donating our old gowns to them.
As I was monitoring the candy bar (great job for a pregnant lady ;)) I was surrounded by my students past and present. All wanted to pose for pictures with me, all wanted a hug, all wanted to congratulate me on Baby Weeks. Throughout the night, more of the same continued. The dance floor was not divided between cliques, but was a hot sweaty teenage mesh of kids just having fun. So much fun in fact that they encouraged us to do the "Dougie" with them and pulled us in the middle of their dancing circle. Yes, at an inner-city prom the teachers dance too, without a single eye roll or rude comment.
One of the more touching moments of the night came during dinner when a special needs student was awkwardly dancing alone. At my high school, this young novice would have been laughed at, snickered at, and scoffed at for being so different. Here, a group of boys got up from their meals and joined him, smiling and clapping along.
Working in the "ghetto" comes with many challenges, but it also has it rewards. And beyond the buffet of roast beef, chicken cordon bleu, creamy veggie lasagna and tiramisu I was rewarded with a warm heart, sore feet and a smile on my face.