The Roses of
by Heidi Lowy
|The Teaching Studio | Piano Education Home|
Is beauty in the eye of the beholder?
Beauty is lacking at the high school, I think. Outside, the birds begin to sing a little before 6:20 am, as I park my car in the adjacent lot. I haven't missed a day since September. It's March now, and I'm feeling desperate. So desperate, that my husband and teen-aged daughter are beginning to scream back at me, when I come home, after a day of teaching in this place.
Screaming is de rigueur here. I yearn for quiet time, away from the pervasive cursing, or "cussing," according to local lingo. The students scream at each other, in the hallway. They scream at me, during class.
Classroom management is my goal today,
everyday. And I fail at it, each and every blessed day. I am the gaoler-teacher
of children who address each other constantly, using the "n" word. As a
white, middle-aged, well-educated, but novice public school teacher,
teaching in this inner-city environment is my first experience in the public
school arena, and I know it will be my last. I'm an "f---in'" music teacher,
and the F Word is as common to me now, as it is to my students. Students
curse at me all day. "You f---in '" white-assed bitch" is a favorite. And
not even uttered in an undertone. I am cursed at, humiliated and nothing is
done to stop it. How can I stop hatred and personal animus in children who
just plain don't like me? I can't. Most of my students are illiterate.
Putting three or four words together to form a sentence is likewise, out of
reach. I can't believe what I am seeing. These children can neither read nor
write at grade level, or even slightly below it. It's happening right here,
in the bosom of New Jersey.
I left in late March because it became impossible for me to continue. The psychological toll of being constantly screamed at by unruly children and the threat of physical harm, feared by my family on my behalf, forced me out. I was run out of Dodge, right here in The Garden State.
It is peaceful now, as I hear the birds sing outside my window at home. I treasure the quiet. The volume of my life has been turned down. Beauty has returned, for me, at least, but a part of me remains there, and hears their screaming "WE CAN STILL HEAR YOU, BUT WHAT WILL BECOME OF US!"
Editor's Note: Heidi Lowy is a
teacher, performer and recording artist. She was
interviewed for PEP in June, 2007.
Last updated: 11/25/09
The Piano Education Page, Op. 8, No. 1, © Copyright 2001-2009 John M. Zeigler. Portions copyright 1995-2000 John M. Zeigler and Nancy L. Ostromencki. All rights reserved.