As soon as I walked in the building yesterday, I could tell something was off. I heard murmurs in the hallway about a middle school girl, one of those kids whose name everyone in the school knows. Walking out of the main office, I ran into another teacher who was crying and I knew it was bad news. One of our 7th graders died in a house fire the night before, with three other family members.
I don’t know most of the middle school kids, but everyone knows this girl. She was seventh grade aged, but she looked old enough to be a high school student. Last year, she was one of the most challenging students in the building, but this year, she was all smiles 95% of the time. She’s become somewhat of a mascot for our entire school. I never taught her, but she said hello to me every time she passed me in the hallway. She spent a lot of time on the 10th grade floor, because that’s where the middle school special ed rooms are located. Also, her cousin is one of my students and basketball players. Every no and then, she would ask me if he was turning his homework. I’m worried about him because he has an extremely rough situation to begin with, and he’s already riding that edge between trying in school and dropping out.
Reading the news coverage of the tragedy, as it turns out my basketball player’s mother survived a deadly fire 15 years ago, in which she lost three of her other children. It said she escaped with one child, who would presumably be my student. But two nights ago, she lost her mother and her niece.