Jacksonville Journey

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jun 16 2012

Induction Day 3

I am still wrapping my head around today.

In the morning we learned about Ax Handle Saturday- a dark period in Jax’s history, but one that should be shared! To learn more, go check out a piece the local newspaper did on it by clicking here. Essential points: on Aug 17, white men gather to beat and chase young black men (some still in MIDDLE SCHOOL) off of lunch counters during a sit-in (aggravated by sit-ins) with ax handles. No one got killed, but reports of injured vary and are un-reliable. What was most shocking to me about watching this video is that I wasn’t shocked. I wasn’t surprised. And I should be. I should take the violence for granted. I think if it had been any more recent than the Civil Rights movement, maybe it would have been more shocking. But when they said white men with baseball bats and black men, I knew what was going to happen. Which isn’t fair, and might speak more to the history of the civil rights movement rather than any one thing in specifics.

The other thing that was really touching today was a well run Poverty Simulation by United Way. It placed in the same situations that many (but not all) of our students will be living in. It showed us how some poor people try to make it. And how you either fail or scrape by. There was no “success.” I knew people lived in poverty, but I never had the number confront me. While I lived on the salary that “my family” had in Macedonia, it would be impossible in the US. And it was. After all of the bills lined up, we needed an extra $475. Where was that to come from?

We summed up our feeling afterwards in one word and here were some common ones

Wordle: poverty

And we all agreed with other groups/families words. I played a 13 year old- and I felt helpless and out  of the loop. I knew that there were problems going on but I couldn’t do anything. And when I was supposed to be “in school” and “learning” I was thinking of how to make money or how my older brother was doing taking care of us. It was not conducive to learning.  And some of our kids will be facing the same problems.

As we were re-grouping, my group came up with an idea, but we are unsure of how to implement it, so I reach out to you all for help:

We noticed that as “families” we didn’t know what services were out there for people to reach out to. We want them to know what is out there and to be able to get the best out of them. We have proposed that we (TFA CMs) help to create a list of services in Jax and make it available to our student’s families.

BUT we don’t want to assume anything about our student’s families, so we don’t want to give it to ALL of them at once. But we want them to know it is there. Do we put something in our newsletters? In our syllabus? As a google doc? have it in our classrooms?

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