High School Student
Q: What do you have in common with your teachers?
A: I think the biggest thing my teachers and I have in common is our races, genders, and our backgrounds. My teachers and I have similar backgrounds in the sense that we all have been through something.
I love that with all my teachers, whether past teachers or present teachers, I can talk to them about anything. Especially with Mr. Townsend, because he and so many of my other teachers are so easy to talk to, I have been able to open up and talk about something that has affected me enormously.
The community I have at my high school and the wonderful connections I have with my teachers are really important to me. Mr. Townsend has allowed me to be able to write about my experience with my father’s drug abuse. Writing about it has shown me how important it is to understand it.
When I was in middle school, I went through some rough stuff where my parents split up and divorced and my father fully set towards drug abuse and addiction. In middle school I didn’t really have anybody to talk to about what was going on in my life and how it affected me. When I got into high school I finally found teachers that actually cared about me and who I felt I could open up to.
I got Mr. Townsend in my sophomore year and now I also have him in my junior year. He has been here for my no matter what. He has also given me more chances to learn more about what my father is going through and how I can cope with it.
Q: Does it matter that students and teachers have things in common?
A: In my opinion, yes. Only because the connections I have with my teachers were all based off of our common likes and experiences.
In my freshman year, I lost my grandma who I was living with at the time. Through losing her, I pushed away a lot of people and started to fall short in school. The teachers I had that freshman year talked to me and tried to understand me during that time period. They began to understand what I was going through because most of them have lost someone as well in their lifetimes. My teachers tried to just be there for me and tried not to push me into doing things and saying things that I wasn’t ready for.
My history teacher in freshman year, who I have this year as well, has always been one of the teachers that has tried to watch over me and be there for me through my harshest and worst times. When I came into class the day after my grandma died, he tried to talk to me and understand me to ensure I was okay.
All of my teachers care about us. I know this because they all talk to us, not only as students but as people. To them we aren’t just students, we are individuals that actually matter.
I think in most schools, teachers and students don’t always form the best relationships and most students don’t feel that teachers care about them. Here, all these teachers feel for us. They want to help us and want us to do better. Our teachers want us to go to college, get jobs, and just pursue life.
This relationships I share with my teachers are the only reasons I am even remotely successful in class or in school in general. I don’t know what I would do without the connections I have with my teachers.
Leah hopes to become a pediatrician or child psychologist someday. She says, "I like being surrounded by people who I can help." To hear more about Leah's journey, watch this video of Kristin Leong's opening talk for Town Hall Seattle's #EducationSoWhite event. To meet Cameron Townsend, Leah's teacher, go here.
Photo (c) 2017 Kristin Leong
Humanizing the gaps separating teachers and students.