A teacher’s story about a boy named HarryFebruary 11, 2014
I met teacher Carrie Gelson in 2011 after she wrote an eloquent appeal on behalf of her disadvantaged students on Vancouver’s eastside.
Her young charges needed socks, shoes and snacks, she wrote in a letter that landed in my inbox one Sunday while I was working at the Vancouver Sun. “Does anyone care?” she asked. When my story was published the following day, she got her answer. The outpouring of generosity from Sun readers and others who heard about the difficult situation at Seymour elementary was stunning.
The reaction to that story led to the creation of the Sun’s Adopt-a-School program, which has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to help poor students around the Lower Mainland. It continues to this day.
Gelson, a talented writer as well as a gifted teacher, has now published another riveting article about her students. This one is called The Part That is True and I know from seeing her in action on several occasions that she speaks from the heart. It begins:
I know a boy named Harry.
He may be in my class this year. It might have been last. It may have been ten years ago. For the purposes of this post, I will write about him as if he is a current student. He might be.
He may be a real boy or part of many boys.
This is not the truth that matters here.
You just need to know this. This child is amazing.
The truth is that there are boys named Harry. You might know one.
The truth is many people miss what is amazing about Harry because they are so worried about the box he doesn’t fit in.
The truth is that Harry brings out ugliness in adults that I never anticipated. I know it mostly stems from fear. But it is ugliness just the same.
The truth is that some people are so worried about why Harry won’t fit in their classrooms or programs, that they have no space to think about how they could help create an environment that might fit him.
The truth is that my life is enriched from having been Harry’s teacher.
The truth is that I feel protective about my Harry and other children like Harry out there.
The part that is true is that as educators we need to look first at ourselves before we welcome students into our classrooms. Each child has the potential to teach us much more than we might teach that child. But it starts with who we are and what we are open to.
The rest, along with comments from other teachers, can be found on her blog There’s a Book for That. What she describes is personalized learning at its finest!
Photo credit: Vancouver Sun
I am a guest blogger for BCCPAC and the information presented here does not represent in any way the views of the organization.