I was christened “Angel Baby” my senior year by my Criminal Justice teacher. He could be cynical, misogynistic, and just outright blunt sometimes, but he was one of my greatest teachers. As a high school student, I was very bold about my world views and refused to be swayed by the majority vote.
How did I get my glorious nickname? We were discussing bad choices versus bad people. He took a vote at the beginning of our CJ to see who believed people were generally good or generally bad. The class was split in half pretty evenly. He gave his lecture and called a vote again. I was the only one left saying that people were generally good. He then had us each defend our position. Yes, people are capable of some heinous crimes, but I can’t convince myself to believe that the majority of people are bad. To which he said, “Oh look. We have an angel among us. You’ll just a little Angel Baby.”
I had the pleasure of being placed in his government class the following semester. He had all of us introduce ourselves on the first day and stopped me before I could speak. “Everyone say ‘hello’ to Angel Baby.” I wanted the classroom to part and suck me in as the entire class broke out in laughter.
It’s been almost 8 years since graduating and I have friends that still call me “Angel Baby”. My students even caught wind of the nickname and call me “Angel”. I get to work with some of our most at risk students for dropping out. The most important thing is gaining their trust. I make sure to let each of my students know the following:
“You are not a bad kid, you made a bad choice. How can we move forward?”
I am proud that I have heard students stand up and advocate for themselves. It’s been 3 weeks, and I’m slowly seeing an improvement in their level of motivation and desire to learn. I know I have my work cut out for me, but see them succeed and the lights start to turn on makes all the difference.
Until next time,