By: Martha Snider
In 29-years, I have yet to poke a student with a sharp stick. However, I have done everything else in the Dan Rather quote. This past week, a former student presented at my school's staff meeting. In the age of Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS), Dr. Marlon Gayle quickly reminded me of why I love teaching middle school. While you in the midst of tugging, pushing, leading, believing against all odds that your student will make it, many a day, you shake your head and quietly say: "I just don't know."
Dr. Gayle and I met in a middle school classroom. He was 13-years old. He was as challenging in 1989 as any middle schooler today. Yet, he had tons of potential if only it could be pointed in a positive direction. After middle school, I did not see Marlon for about a decade although I read about him in the paper on the blotter page. Then, one day, he showed up at my doorstep far from the classroom and school where I taught asking if he could mow my lawn. Why was he mowing lawns? He was putting himself through college. A few more years passed. Then, I saw my former student at the school district office checking out a teacher laptop. Shortly thereafter, I was working at the same school with my former student. And now, today, he is a professor at San Francisco State University and operating a consulting business to help teachers learn what he taught me years ago. Believe in your students. Tug, push, pull, and lead them to follow their dreams. Today I can Google "Dr. Marlon Gayle"
I was honored to introduce my former student Dr. Marlon Gayle this past week. I said then; and, I way now: Marlon is not the exception to the rule. He is the rule.
Dr. Gayle tells his story best. I hope you will take a moment and learn more about one of the thousands of reasons I love teaching middle school.