Monday, May 13, 2013

An Experience

It all started in August, when I got the call for an interview at Southtown Pre-K to be their aide. I was excited and nervous and scared to death, but I got the job.
It was the PERFECT job for me because 1.) working in a school means perfect hours for a mom and 2.) I'm awesome with kids.
In the interview, I talked about all the crafts and projects and science experiments I liked to do with my own kids. I said something I think they get tired of all the stuff I have them do, so it will be fun to be part of a classroom and participate in these activities with a larger group of kids. Or small groups. Whatever works. I had so many ideas!

It turns out, the job was nothing like what I expected. I quickly learned that at Southtown, we're basically given all the troubled kids with behavior problems. This isn't on purpose, but rather a result of the registration process at the preschool.
Every spring, there's a screening and an early registration. Parents who participate in this early registration can choose whether to place their child in half-day classes or full-day classes. They can also usually choose the teacher their child gets. Most parents don't choose to place their children at Southtown because it's separate from the other classes, and most people don't know where it's at. I didn't even know where it was until I had an interview there, and I lived two blocks away growing up!
Anyway, in the fall there's another registration where all the parents who missed or didn't attend the early registration can register their children a few weeks before classes start. These parents have a bit of a choice of where to place their children, but may get stuck with half-day classes when they wanted full-day, or may get stuck with a teacher they don't know or don't like. Most of our kids come from this registration, or from late registration where there's no other choice.
Not to be mean, but the type of people who miss every chance to register their children for school and wait until the very last minute tend to be somewhat lazy people and lazy parents. Lazy parents have children with very few rules at home, and children with very few rules at home generally don't do too well in school. Our class is filled with these children.
Another factor is that Southtown is in, well, Southtown. It's in the "bad part of town" and parents who live close often chose to register their children here because it's so close. A lot of our parents don't have cars, so it helps to be within walking distance.

These past few months have been a challenge. I've been so close to quitting so many times, but I have two children of my own who I have to take care of.
I even got hired at a gas station, and nearly took the job. I had to work all evening hours, though, and would rarely see my kids. This job is perfect for me in that I have great hours, make over minimum wage and get free childcare. I just don't like it at all. It's not what I expected at all.

While the kids drive me crazy, I still love (almost) every one of them to death. There have been many times when I long to take one home because I'm pretty sure I could fix a lot of their problems. I know I could provide them with some structure, some discipline, some healthy food and exercise, and most importantly LOTS of love. It breaks my heart to see these bright little boys and girls not being taken care of in the way I want them to be taken care of. There's one little boy in particular who is SO smart, but has such bad behavior. I can see where he's headed in life and it makes me sad because he has a lot of potential.

Today was our last day of class, and it's a bittersweet event. I'm so glad it's over with, but I'll miss most of my "babies" and I'll be wondering how they're doing for the rest of my life. This post is about remembering this experience forever.

Some of the photos have Lailah in them because she goes to the daycare at Southtown in the mornings, because she's in a half-day afternoon class. There was some time in the fall where I was in the daycare every Tuesday and Thursday instead of the pre-k. I'm also in there sometimes on early dismissal days. Now I'll be in there (though I don't know which room) through the summer.

So here's to the experience, good and bad.

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