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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Teacher (10/26/06)

TITLE: Every Potential Holds Me Captive
By Glenn A. Hascall


What am I doing up here?

Last year it was second graders. They thought everything I said was funny and treated me as if I actually had a brain.

Sixth graders? I wonder if they can see me sweat?

All they want to do is talk.

If I speak up will they even hear me?

Randy is taller than I am.

Do they have any idea how many hours I’ve spent trying to learn a whole new curriculum for a grade I thought was off limits to second grade teachers?

My upper lip is moist, but my throat can’t seem to find a drop of moisture for love or money.

One of the students just looked at me. I feel like I’m having a heart attack. Why did I ever agree to this position?

“Excuse me,” someone just spoke – the disembodied voice seems to be connected to the boy with his hand raised.

“Good morning, class,” the voice was mine and it sounded more assured than I felt. “Welcome to the 6th grade class.”

The day moves at pace that surpasses warp speed and somehow I find myself sitting in my favorite comfy chair at home wondering how I had survived the first day. The scenes replay in my brain in a way that seems to replay every event in a matter of thirty seconds.

I sit in the darkening house and tears flood my eyes. I’m not sure if it’s a response to the difficulties I have encountered in this change of life or possibly the fact that God brought me through the midst of my own Red Sea and I discovered I am a survivor.

I rarely arrive home before 7 PM and I arrive at work just after 7 AM. There are several hours spent each weekend getting things ready for the next week.

Forty students come through my class each day and I’m getting to know each of them.

If my students only knew that I am learning most of this material along with them they would probably stage a revolt, yet they come to class each day and expect to learn from me.

Most people have no idea the difficulties I face. Troubled students from broken homes, irate parents who can’t believe that their child may be less than perfect, hormones raging that cause these young people to respond in ways they didn’t even expect, and the time a teacher spends trying to come up with ways to help students succeed when odds indicate they won’t.

Today I embrace the toughest job I have ever had. Each child has a name, each name represents a life that I can never know fully, every life has potential, every potential holds me captive.

I must find a way to direct the potential – so, before I open my mouth today I will do what I have done for more than forty days and forty nights.

“Dear God,

I’m way over my head here, but you brought me to this place and I came. I don’t know what You have in mind, but I’m here and I see lots of potential mixed with lots of trouble. I can provide some structure, Father, but only you can reach the heart. Reach out, Father. These kids need You – I need You.

I can’t do this alone.”

And He said, “You won’t have to.”

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This article has been read 938 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Karen Schravemade11/02/06
Beautiful - loved your title. That says it all, doesn't it?
Kevin Kindrick11/02/06
Amen. Such is the heartcry of children's workers everywhere. Be encouraged, the call on your heart is not unique - there are more of us out there who hear it than you can ever imagine. Together we are shaping the future of our nation, and of our world. With God's help, there may even be a future to be shaped.

God bless,

Joanne Sher 11/06/06
This is so raw, and so true to life. You are obviously a keen observer of your wife, or you never could have "pegged it" like this. I felt like I was right there with her! Your ending is perfect!
Jan Ackerson 11/06/06
This is awesome, and I just have to mention the title--one of the best ever. Written with a keen hand, I love it.
Jen Davis11/06/06
A wonderful story. An insightful glimpse into the challenges many of our teachers face every day. I love the phrase: “…every life has potential, every potential holds me captive.” Well done.
Val Clark11/07/06
Well done, Glenn. A hard ask but you did it well. Have stood in your wife's shoes and know the feeling exactly.
Marilee Alvey11/07/06
Yes, this is where a sixth grade teacher "lives." It hit me as I read this that, not only are they asked to mine for gold, but they are asked to create gold where it didn't exist before. That's it! Teachers are put into a room and asked to spin straw into gold.....daily! They are asked to make miracles happen and we all know who is in charge of that. Too bad He's no longer allowed in, isn't it? Somehow you have perfectly captured the fear and frustration of a teacher tackling new material. You must have had divine intervention!
Melanie Kerr 11/07/06
I feel exposed! Those are my thoughts and my feelings written up there - written much better than I could ever express them.
Betty Castleberry11/07/06
I have no idea what it's like to stand before a classroom, but my gut tells me this is it. This is just awesome.
Beth Muehlhausen11/08/06
Awesome, transparent, engaging...not to mention thought-provoking! Written with an authentic flair to bring us all into this teacher's heart.
Sara Harricharan 11/08/06
Loved this! Held my attention all the way through, good job!