Not for the Faint of Hart

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Working at Charles Hart Middle School is not for the faint of heart. It’s not for the weak, the lazy, nor the timid. Chronic poverty is a common struggle for our students. They come to school carrying “bags” that most adults would find difficult to hold for even one day. It’s a challenging and rewarding school to teach in.

There’s no such thing as a “typical day” at Charles Hart Middle School. We have over 500 middle school teenagers. We’re located within one of the most impoverished wards in DC. We are a stone’s throw away from the Capitol building, yet miles away from equal access to quality resources and opportunities. We have a great deal of students that are in need of mentors and tutors. We have a great deal of families in need of counseling and social services. We have a great deal of challenges, but, fortunately, we have a great staff.

This is not a school for teachers who wish to work the bare minimum. It’s a demanding job that requires grit, persistence, and resolve. Many DCPS teachers avoid working in our school, and even in our ward. Many DCPS teachers refuse to work in such a challenging environment. My colleagues and I are not one of them. We show up every day, ready to open minds and influence students.

Our work is often ignored and under appreciated. Yes, we are one of the lowest performing DC public schools, but it is not due to  a lack of dedication or trying. We face difficult obstacles. Yet, we show up every day to open minds and influence students.

Our students are quick to tell us off or lash out during instruction. We have a great deal of students who misplace their anger and frustrations in our direction. At risk students overwhelm our student populations, yet we lack adequate resources. Nevertheless, we show up every day to open minds and influence students.

We all get “observed” and “evaluated” by master educators who, more often than not, do not have teaching experience in our ward or school environment. In a 30-minute period, master educators observe our instruction and classroom management. Some master educators are empathetic to our situation, and are genuinely effective in offering advice and feedback. Others are completely disconnected to our circumstances, and suffer from blind ideology.  Yet, we show up every day to open minds and influence students.

Even though we’re ignored, under resourced, over-crowded, under-appreciated, and misunderstood, we show up every day to open minds and influence students. Working at Charles Hart Middle School is a privilege and a challenge wrapped into one. It’s definitely not for the faint of Hart.

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