One of the interesting things about my job is that I get to go to school.
What I mean is, I get to sit in class and learn along with the students.
I also get to see what the other kids, the non general education kids do.
Not every classroom is jammed packed with boisterous, eager kids; some are quite small with a student teacher ratio that would surprise many.
My assignment for instance includes a class with only eight students.
If you are following along at home, that's eight to one, not counting my presence.
Add me in, and well, you can do the math.
Or can you?
I won't make that assumption.
See every public school is required by law to provide what's known as FAPE.
Free Appropriate Public Education.
We cannot turn away kids, no matter what.
The cold truth is that not all kids belong in or are able to achieve success at the high school level.
Not every student leaves here with a high school diploma.
So instead, the curriculum involves learning skills that will help them transition into adulthood and beyond.
These students are not on track to graduate with a diploma, they simply cannot earn the needed credits.
So the school tries it's best to send them off with the basic skills needed to exist in the outside world.
A sort of school within a school, if you will.
Most of the tax paying public never hears about this facet of what schools do.
We read about test scores, graduation rates, teachers salaries, and budgets.
Rarely is the pubic given a glimpse of what I think of as Area 51.
Not because it's secret or anything, it's just that for the most part, very few know just what's going on and the department is federally funded.
I consider it a privilege to work with these kids. It involves a whole different skill set that, to be honest I'm still acquiring.
They may not be the sharpest tools in the shed, but they are the hardest working.
What makes them different?
I've thought about this and could only come up with one reason: they know they have to try harder and they want to succeed.
After spending time with these students, it is sometimes difficult to go back and deal with "regular" kids.
It's sometimes difficult to reconcile that here are kids that seem to want to get through school with the least amount of effort while at the same time, there are kids trying their hardest and not receiving the same recognition.
I feel a greater sense of accomplishment working with these students, knowing that they will probably move on with the same work ethic and be contributing members of society.
Rather than handing the kids their diplomas because they showed up and sending them off with a sense of entitlement.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not becoming jaded; I'm far too idealistic for that to happen.
I mean I didn't get into this to become an old indifferent boring dude recycling the same stuff year after year.
Though it's easy to see how that happens.
Unless you work with these kids.
Then I don't see how you cannot be inspired.
It's a different ballgame here in Dreamland.