My school’s baseball coach/government teacher is diagnosed with cancer around Christmas time.
To help raise money for the family, our service organizations band together and organize a day where, instead of having classes like normal, we have various activity periods that students are charged a dollar per session to attend. In addition, students can pay to have a color streak put in their hair, and several of the boys (and some teachers) agree to get their heads shaved if a certain amount of money is raised.
Of course, not all of our students can afford to pay to participate, but the student council has a solution for that. Students can sign up to come in after school and do some work for a teacher, and the teacher will sponsor them.
There are about 200 students in our school. We raised a few thousand dollars.
(I am a student teacher working in an American and Contemporary Literature class with eleventh and twelfth graders. While I am biologically female, I identify as genderfluid and dress in a very masculine fashion. As a result, my attire occasionally includes bowties. We are at the computer lab working on research papers when a student of mine – a star athlete at the school – calls me over.)
Me: “What’s up, [Student]?”
Student: “So, I notice that sometimes you wear bowties.”
Me: “That I do.”
Student: “I was actually wondering if you could teach me how to tie a bowtie.”
(I find this to be very sweet, but I also can’t help chuckling.)
Me: “I actually have a confession to make: I don’t know how to tie a bowtie, either. Almost all of my bowties are pre-tied or clip-on.”
Student: “Oh, really?”
Me: “Yeah. You wanna know the funny part, though? My fiancée can tie bowties, and she doesn’t even wear them.”
Student: “No way. So she ties them for you?”
Me: “Yep! I mean, I only own a couple of bowties that I need tied, anyway. Like I said, the rest are clip-on.” *jokingly* “Sorry that I’m kind of a phony when it comes to that!”
(My student and I both laughed before he went back to work. Sometimes I feel like teenagers are more accepting and tolerant of others’ appearances than adults are!)
(I have epilepsy and on the days when I have breakthrough seizures I have difficulty sticking with one train of thought. To avoid an extremely confusing lesson, I just tell my students that we’ll be watching a movie. One student has had my class before and knows I don’t like to show movies this early in the year unless I have a sub.)
Student: “Are you okay?”
Me: “I’m fine. Just breakthrough seizures.”
Student: “Oh, you have epilepsy? Are we doing anything to trigger them? I know [Friend]’s seizures are worse when he’s stressed.”
Other Students: *after hearing him* “Yeah, what can we do to help?”
(Keep in mind that this was the fourth or fifth day of school and only Student #1 had met me before. Not one of them had anything derogatory to say and they were willing to completely change their behavior if it was hurting me. The previous semester, when I had a (for me) bad breakthrough seizure, not one misbehaved for the entire day and I was repeatedly offered candy, hugs, and whatever else they thought would help. My coworkers offered to rearrange their schedules to help. These teenagers are the generation that’s supposedly the most spoiled and self-centered, but when it matters they’re the ones that give me hope.)