I have taught at three schools in my career, each has had a very strong Latino population. I’m very thankful for that. They have made both my teaching experience and my life much fuller.
Some of you have not been as lucky as me, and don’t know a lot of the kids that would be effected by ending the D.A.C.A. program.
Let me share with you a few stories about the dreamers I know:
* I used to coach baseball, and open up the weight room for baseball kids and whoever else wanted to come from 6:00 A.M. to 7:00 A.M. each day before school. There were three Latino boys who were not baseball players, but who used to show up every day. However, they wouldn’t get there until 6:35 or 6:40.
Finally one day I stopped them on the way out. “Hey guys, you really should get here earlier and come here for the full hour. I don’t think you are getting that much out of only doing a twenty minute workout.”
Their answer: “Sorry Mr. Hammitt, we will try harder. Our dad says we can only come work out if we finish our work in the nursery first. And then we have to ride our bikes in the dark to get here (It was February, and is typically about 35 degrees in the morning.) They were riding from a town called Aurora, which is about five miles away.
** At parent teacher conferences last year a parent said to me, through an interpreter, ” We like your class very much. Thank you for teaching us so much.”
Thinking there was an error in translation, I smiled and said, “Thank you, but I think you mean your son loves the class.”
“Oh no….we mean us. He takes good notes and comes home and teaches us everything you teach him every day. And then he tries to teach us English.”
Me: “Oh my….that is amazing”
“Yes, he gets mad at us when we don’t do well because he says we have to respect this country and learn all about it.”
“By the way, he tells us your jokes too…..we like them also.”
(nice to see that they mastered the American art of schmoozing)
** There is a young woman that I have taught in summer school for about 6 years. When she first started, she struggled with her English. I had her in class this past year during the regular school session. Every day she would show up early to study extra and try learn more. One day during one of the bad weather stretches we had last winter she came in and had an ice pack on her knee. I asked her what happened. She said she slipped on ice in the working before school in the morning.
I tried to send her to the school nurse. She wouldn’t let me. She said, “I’ll go after class on break, but I never miss class.” When she came to me this spring with a friend of similar background and asked me to recommend them for an A.P. class the next year. I said yes with a lump in my throat.
I could tell you stories like this all day. These kids deserve a chance to succeed in America every bit as much as I deserved mine, probably more. They are trying desperately to take advantage of the opportunities they have been given.
To the DACA kids I’ve been blessed enough to know:
Hang in there. There are a millions of people like me who respect you, love you, and will stand for you. We know that you are on your way to becoming valuable contributors to the country we share.
Remember when I taught you about the American Revolution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution? Remember when we talked about separation of powers, and how America was founded on values of democracy and did not want a king? That is all still true.
Those founding fathers are going to come through for you, just stay strong while they answering the call for us.