Free Bird.

Today was the first official day of my summer. Didn't get out of my PJs until 1 pm. Sweet deal. This was my first year as a full-time, contract teacher, in the 'burgh. My sixth year as teacher. It was a memorable year in which the learning curve was steep. Very steep. For me, my colleagues and the students. Our new school, our little bubble of 250 students. We were building the plane as we flew it. Hell, the plane is still being built. We started out as the "Comets," and now we are, thanks to a vote by the student-body, the "Thunder Sharks." Or is it: Thundersharks?

Don't ask.

I don't even know what a thundershark is. All I know is that we can pirate ACDC's, "Thunderstruck." And that's cool.

I've never worked with a true urban population. The school I came from in CA had quite a diverse population, but not an overwhelming amount from the urban sector. I met so many wonderful and beautifully screwed up young men and women. They came from soul-crushing homes with absentee parents, abuse, drugs, alcohol, pregnancies, rape, isolation, abandonment, disease, poverty and god knows what else. They weren't all struck by a cruel hand of fate, but many were. They were loud and obnoxious, sometimes downright rude. They weren't used to being expected to complete homework and work hard. Many of them struggled to keep their heads above water. Many failed despite our best efforts. They were given laptops, and many were destroyed. They downloaded viruses while logging on to Facebook and MySpace. Screens cracked, keys went missing, hard drives froze and crashed.

And yet here I find myself, 182+ days later, loving my fucked up little minions. They had moxy and bravery, and I loved them for it. We built a relationship and they came to trust me. They are my new kind of home in a classroom. And while I'm damn glad to be done for a while, I know I'll look forward to seeing them again in late August.

For now it's relaxation time. It's get a new haircut time. It's get healthy time. And it might just be puppy time. Check out the little gal I'm going to meet tomorrow at noon. She's a German Shepherd mix and I've yet to see her in person, but I'm already head over heals in love:

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