One stanza of a student’s poem reads:
I’m hopeless in my mind
Every day I wish I could just push rewind
I don’t see myself with a future – am I blind?
For the first time, for many of my students, they have consistent, positive, healthy role models and mentors in their life in the State Staff and teachers here. They have 3 meals a day, time to read, groups to process, a wonderful social worker to talk to, and a bed every night. For many of them, this is their best set up for success. These are the moments in which we get a glimmer of their best selves, of who they could be if they were going anywhere else when they leave us.
It is also a time of immense uncertainty. Between defenders, Guardian ad Litems, DA’s, and parents, these kids are getting different stories every day of what their future holds. I’ve seen a kid convinced on Tuesday that he’s going to be committed for 3 years, and on Wednesday he goes home. I’ve had a student sure he was leaving on Friday afternoon, and when I return from break he’s still here with no release in sight. I’ve had students take plea deals because the months of waiting, not knowing, and having numbers of years thrown around, and being called a “menace to society” finally got to them.
They are stuck in a place where they are constantly reminded of their past, and completely uncertain of their future. Yet somehow, they find the strength to be kind, respectful and invest in our time together. They keep their heads down, focused on the present, because it’s the only place they have any semblance of control.