I really thought I was prepared to speak to the AVID classes at Lee Freshman High yesterday. After going over my notes several times and making sure I rehearsed my presentation in front of the mirror, I packed my tote bag and headed to the middle school in West Texas comprised of 9th graders only.
I was greeted at the door by a couple of young ladies who pointed me in the right direction and when we got to the classroom they whispered, “Good luck. You’re gonna need it. This is a BAD class.” With that, the two girls walked away.
I was nervous because I had not been in the classroom in a long time. Times have changed tremendously and I got chills thinking about the horror stories of students cursing teachers out, being disruptive and disrespectful to adults and their peers. What am I going to do, I thought. I’m here now, there’s no turning back.
After row call, the pledge of allegiance, the pledge to the Texas flag and a moment of silence; I was introduced as the guest speaker, a local author talking about my writing experience and sharing my process with this group of eager learners, LOL.
To my amazement, this was one of the BEST presentations I have ever facilitated because of the participation, feedback, respect, and courtesy of those 9th graders. They were AWESOME! They listened intently, asked questions, respected me and their classmates; I had never seen anything like this, not even in a presentation consisting of all adults.
Then the unexpected happened. They asked questions about why I write today and what I write about. I could not lie.
I told them that I’m not a fantasy writer or a children’s book author; I write about inner healing and restoration from childhood abuse, sexual confusion, disappointments and teenage struggles. I shared a little of my story.
They cried. I fought back my tears, just to get through the presentation, but after giving them words of hope and encouragement, I ran to my car and let the tears flow.
I concluded. Regardless of the age bracket, the academic or athletic ability, behavioral problems, the sexual gender or the nationality, kids (deep down inside) are still kids. Teens are still just teens who need love, affirmation, support, encouragement, guidance, compassion and re-direction. They desperately need someone to tell them the truth, in love.
Thank you Lee Freshman High for touching my life in the most precious way and for being the best group of students in West Texas! Remember to dream, love, inspire, laugh, live, create and no matter what happens in life, never give up hope!
Mrs. Toni Spearman