I just got spit on. That's right, spit on. By a student.

I just got spit on. That's right, spit on. By a student.

And no, they did not catch them.

See, this Saturday we are going to have a campus beautification day. Our school has been hit by a flood of graffiti as of late and the truth is, we need more than just the custodial staff to improve the campus environment.

So the administration or ASB or somebody came up with the idea of having a campus beautification day whereby we get the students, the staff, the parents, the community to come and paint and plant flowers and so on. Me, I am even planning to bring my 3 year old daughter down to help out.

It takes a village, right?

So, in order to really "sell" the idea to my kids, I planned a whole lesson around this day. We wrote and chatted about graffiti, about why kids tag up campus, about the implications for those "good kids" who don't want to be known for attending a "ghetto school" (their words, not mine) and so on.

And then, in order to bring a little more of the the lesson home, we took a walking tour, as a class, of campus.

Our school is an open-faced three story building designed by architects who absolutely had NO IDEA how to intelligently plan for an urban campus. There are nooks and crannies, blind corners and "hiding spots" everywhere. The school's design plagues our school security personnel like mad.

Anyway, while standing in front of a "COMPITAS" piece of gang script -- it must be a 15 foot piece of tagging in one of the central corridors of school -- I was leading a thoughtful discussion with the students on the destruction we saw before us.

It was a fantastic lesson. 100% engagement from 100% of the kids in my class with plenty of vigorous debate as to the reasons for - and the implications of - what we saw in front of us.

That's when a kid from either one or two stories above (I don't know, I never saw him) spit on me. Right in the middle of my lesson.

And to boot, I was wearing a white shirt. Crisp, clean, bright. It's ruined.

I can't even begin to express how badly I feel/felt. Makes me want to quit. Literally, it makes me want to walk away.

I think everyone has a breaking point and the fact that I while I am out of class working to bring a lesson to life in a way that is unique, meaningful and important to a HUGE group of kids and... well, I get spit on by kids that are ditching, well... is that what teaching is today?

Is this the humiliation a person has to endure?
Is this some sort of symbolic event that I am too freakin' stupid (or thick) to be able to read the tea leaves on?
Is this really what my job is?

You wanna know how the budget cuts impact our campus? We have less security which means we have more kids roaming free which means that we have less control over campus which means that teachers who actually do come to work and try and give their all to the kids get spit on.

Tough day. A day when I saw/see/feel my breaking point.

We all leave our jobs at some point. Retire. Move up. Move on. This is not the way I want to go out but at some point, enough is enough.

They are paying me 3% less money this year to do more work than last year. And next year they are about to offer me up to 12% less money to do even more work next year. But are those the things that break me? Well, they push... no doubt.

But I am 43 years old. Does retaining a bit of personal dignity not, at some point, matter?

Views: 27

Comment by Karen Neal on February 19, 2010 at 8:29am
Please don't let the stupid action of an anonymous student discourage you. You are doing great things with your kids and really making a difference.
Comment by Alan Sitomer on February 19, 2010 at 10:10am
Thanks Karen -- easier said than done... but thank you.
Comment by Alan Sitomer on February 19, 2010 at 12:32pm
I just got a personal note worth sharing on this front... amazing the emotional twists that this post is taking me through.

Dear Mr. Alan,

That student, who “spit on” you, with no future, is preposterous. He or she had no right to spit on you and I apologize to the issue that occurred. You are a great teacher. Keep up the good work and continue teaching because students actually learn in your class, I did. You were my first English honors (GATE) teacher and I am pleased to thank you for everything. I am currently attending a four-year University and I feel if it were not for you, I would not be here today. You mentioned, “We all leave our jobs at some point. Retire. Move up. Move on. This is not the way I want to go out but at some point, enough is enough.” I am content that you still are standing on your two feet with courage and dignity.
I remember I have been “Spit on” by a boy who I did not get along with, when I was in middle school. My hair was wet and smelly (this is when I had hair). Most students who saw what occurred pointed and laughed at me. I felt awful, humiliated, and disrespected. Unfortunately, I did not take action about the issue. I was hurt and had fear because that student carried himself as your students stated, “Ghetto.” Where is that student now? Is he in a four-year college? I do not think so! Children so ignorant, outrageous, at that age need to grow up! They are in High School! They need to create a positive future.
Another thing is the fact that they need good parents to push them in the right path. Why bring a beautiful child to life if they do not do his or her job in teaching them what is right or wrong? I consider your daughter lucky for having you as her father. I believe she has an enormous future. Yes, it is your choice to decide whether or not the stay working in “Lynwood High School” anymore. But, I want you to know, that you play a gigantic role in our lives as a teacher. Students need you! Your published books are amazing! I thank you once again for all that you have done for us.

Your student from four years ago,
~Joseph Anderson Louis II


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