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My Heart is Breaking

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posted on Jan, 13 2015 @ 06:20 PM
Greetings, ATS.

It's been a long time since I've posted here, but I've been lurking in the shadows and reading the occasional thread. Tonight I need to share with you something horrible that I just learned about.

I moved to my current hometown ten and a half years ago and started teaching first grade that year. I had many wonderful students that year, but one child that always stood out to me was Denarius (a pseudonym).

Denarius was a teacher's dream. Extremely intelligent, likeable, eager to learn and to please. He was a genuinely good-hearted child who got along well with everyone. While all boy and very good at mischief, Denarius also managed to keep his more innocent side. Where I teach, this is not the easiest thing to do.

About a month into school, I had a troubling situation on my hands with Denarius. He and his other siblings never made it to school on time. In fact, a two or even three hour tardy was a typical day for the boys. It didn't affect Denarius' grades or performance that much, as he was so far ahead of his classmates, but his brothers' weren't as lucky. I talked to his mom, who was raising the boys on her own, and stressed the importance of getting to school on time, etc. For a while things improved, then mom went to jail and the boys moved out of district to live with a grandmother.

I saw Denarius about a year later when he moved back (briefly) to my school and was placed again in my class (I now taught second grade). again Denarius was the model student, one who enjoyed learning. I encouraged this as much as possible, telling him every day how he could be anything he wanted if he only applied himself. We talked about his dreams (he wanted to be a doctor, an astronaut, and a soldier) and I would find books for him at yard sales on his topics of interest. He moved again at the end of second grade, and I never saw him again.

Until a few moments ago, when the local news announced he'd been arrested for double-attempted murder.

For those who didn't do the math, Denarius is 17 and in jail now, awaiting further investigation and most likely a trial. It is my understanding the police have strong evidence Denarius shot both victims with a shotgun. My guess, based on previous cases similar to this one, is Denarius will be in prison for a long time if he's convicted.

I can't help but wonder what more I could have done to help Denarius when he was younger. Was there anything else I realistically could've have done? Was his fate cast before he was born? Does his mother deserve a majority of the blame, or society at large? What happened to this curious, happy, eager child who wanted to be a doctor, who wanted to walk on the moon, who wanted to be a soldier?

My time with Denarius is over, and has been for many years. But I have seventeen other first graders in my classroom this year, all with similar backgrounds and issues in their lives. Another chance, you could say.

Sorry, Denarius. I feel as if I failed you, somehow.

posted on Jan, 13 2015 @ 06:37 PM
a reply to: smyleegrl

It's a messed up thing that if you could put a kid like Denarius in a better environment he could be so successful...unfortunately like most kids that get into trouble they fall prey to peer pressure with gangs or just grow up in a really rough section of a city..

I have come across a few shining stars (teens) that actually made the right decisions and got on with their life as one would hope...unfortunately people from their past did not move on which resulted in a few homicides...

My hope is that you do not get conditioned to these incidents...when that happens we become didn't fail him....what we do as a society fail kids like him and every other kid who picks up a gun or joins a gang..

I had toys and cartoons growing have porn, video games, single parents that work which equals less supervision, more exposure to drugs and violence, and a government that fails to address the tougher issues...some make it and some don't...but you help who you can for as long as you can..

edit on 13-1-2015 by chrismarco because: (no reason given)

posted on Jan, 13 2015 @ 06:39 PM
a reply to: smyleegrl


The world is sometimes as callous and vile of a place, as it can be a beautiful and magical one. The things that happen in it, and the way people react to them are not simple matters of cause and effect, not in the slightest. For a start, you must understand that in some circumstances, shooting two people, even at the risk of going to prison, might be the better of three possible fates or more for the lad. Unless you happen to know that the two people he shot dead, are in fact innocent persons, who have never wronged him or threatened his life, or that of his people, then it is far too early to start playing blame games, especially with yourself.

For a start, you did more for that boys self esteem than you can know. I know what it is to be the bright kid, and without people like you rooting for them, bright kids in hard schools get DESTROYED internally by constant exposure to a toxic peer group, unrealistic expectations are placed upon them, outrages are committed against their person...

Folk like you make a difference, in a good way, despite the fact that this child went on to do what he did. And I must reiterate, that not all circumstances which lead to a shooting, require evil or vile intent on the part of the shooter. I guess the question is, do you believe in your heart that what the fellow did was done out of evil, or do you believe, knowing what you know of him, that he must have had his reasons?

You see the rights and wrongs of a matter are not a matter of legality, and illegality. They are a matter of whether the act could be considered in any way just, and that is a complicated subject, requiring much detailed knowledge of not just the event, but the events which lead up to it.

posted on Jan, 13 2015 @ 06:40 PM
a reply to: smyleegrl

He needed someone like you in his life, every day of his life.

You did what you could, but It appears that his family failed him (and probably "The System" too).

What a sad outcome to such a promising individual. And there are so many like him these days.
edit on 13-1-2015 by tinker9917 because: (no reason given)

posted on Jan, 13 2015 @ 06:40 PM
a reply to: smyleegrl

I'm sorry to that. Your job however, your role, is to teach. Education is a tool people use to live whatever life they are going to live. You gave him that tool of a formal education, and he didnt use it.

It also sounds like he was born smart, and you were fostering what he was born with. Helping to expound upon that. But being educated will only take you so far if you are raised around and associate only with uneducated people.

The rule is that the majority rules, and if the majority of the people in his life were uneducated, he will be eventually do as they do.

Just because someone is born smart, that doesn't mean they were born strong enough to overcome the obstacles he had to. Those are 2 different attributes..........that lead me to believe that if there is a god, he is one twisted b***h.

You did all you could do. You're a good woman, don't beat yourself up over it.

posted on Jan, 13 2015 @ 06:40 PM
a reply to: smyleegrl

You could not have prevented this.
Don't blame your self .

Your a kind soul


posted on Jan, 13 2015 @ 06:47 PM
a reply to: [post=18876403]smyleegrl[/post
So sad to hear your sorry. You have to know this isn'your fault. A lot of children in a class. You do what you can for all of them. He seems to have had a bad life at home. Mom in many times? Who was left to raise him? What did other teachers do? Did they see the potential and encourage?

Maybe you could go see him or write him...let him know you cared. It may help the both of you. Even if he spends his life in prison he can use the time to grow and help others there.

Every bit of time we have should be used toward growth.

My best to you.

posted on Jan, 13 2015 @ 06:50 PM
a reply to: smyleegrl

Thank you for sharing your story and your sorrow. These kinds of stories are all too common.

I don't even know what to say - it wasn't your fault, it wasn't really anybody's fault (even the young man's) but it is All of Our's fault because we are a part of the society that breeds these tragedies every day.


posted on Jan, 13 2015 @ 06:51 PM
Ouch.... I feel your pain and wonderment.

I feel you have gone beyond many teachers - mentors would have. Teachers that do what you have done thought the thoughts reached out and touched are far and few in between. I say this cause I had you in my HS.... Made a mile of difference.

What you need to consider IMHO is that this young man may have been in trouble much sooner. You will never know the effects you have had on him. But there was not much more you could have done.

Who is to blame... That is the age old question. For me my salvation was the illusion of the American dream now gone. I believe that is what you were basically trying to convey to this young person. As my mentor tried for me. I believed. Now older I can look back and say wow, my life had some meaning. However, I never achieved that homeowners status as I am now divorced and ex wife has house. This can not be replaced as the system is broken.... Somehow I feel that this young man is very smart and clearly lost hope along with many the past 6 years! Not your fault...

I hope you can take some satisfaction that Denarius is 17 years old because of YOU!!!! I am who I am because of Brother Adrian at Justin High School in Napa Ca. I know he knew he made a difference cause I was able to tell him... Denarius may not be able to tell you.

What your story does not tell us is why Denarius attempted murder. Was he a villain or perhaps a hero trying to make right a wrong? That is an important part of this story...

Sorry I am not doing a good job with this.... not a good day for me 3C and freezing, me with chronic pain but I had to try to jot something down to reach out...

I know you did good!!! I just hope in time you can see this to be true and lighten up.... Perhaps you can visit him and take him some books... very lonely in jail and very scary facing his charges.... You might be able to do more good...


posted on Jan, 13 2015 @ 06:55 PM
My heart breaks with yours. I don't think there was anything you could have done, other than adopt the boy and get him out of the socio-economic surroundings. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law both teach, and this has come up a lot, although they both teach High School. My sister has 1 former student that made it playing professional football. That's it. she's had girls drop out because of pregnancies, kids that just have no ambition, etc. These kids, black or white, seem already doomed by high school. They see easy money, so start selling drugs. They see guns as a means of conflict resolutions. They want someone to love them unconditionally, so these children have babies. And unless they have someone pluck them out of this, the cycle just continues.

You sound like you are a fantastic teacher. Please don't blame yourself; you didn't fail. You gave a little boy room to dream. Once he was out of your class, he was let down by his life outside of school.

posted on Jan, 13 2015 @ 07:03 PM
a reply to: smyleegrl

I went to school with a kid like this. I was one of the smart kids. Poor mom and I skipped a lot even before 3rd grade. This other kid was like me, from an even poorer spot, and also skipped a lot.. I always ended up in special programs for advanced math, and so did he....

Then in 5th grade he started stealing cars..

He hasn't been out of jail since then except to get right back in.

In my experience there's nothing you can do about it. Beyond changing everything around this kid you aren't going to change his path. That was his slide.

This was one of my friends. He was so nice. A great kid. Before he started stealing cars and presumably doing gang #, the worst he did was pull a girls hair.. And he pulled her hair because she was hot..

But he didn't go in the right direction. Now he is a permanent offender.

Such a waste..

What can you do?

EDIT: I recognize you. I've missed you posting. You're one of the good ones.
edit on 13-1-2015 by KnightLight because: (no reason given)

posted on Jan, 13 2015 @ 07:13 PM
The secret is to stay buoyantly positive while floating in an ocean of negativity. Try staying in the NOW. Live in the moment. Take none of this seriously, including yourself. It is what it is and you can only do what you can do and nothing more. This is all a game.

posted on Jan, 13 2015 @ 07:37 PM
Oh no, you have not failed him. You have encouraged and inspired with your words, with the books you bought for him, with your compassion and guidance. Perhaps some one else failed him or circumstances he may not have had control over. But you did not fail him!

posted on Jan, 13 2015 @ 07:49 PM
a reply to: smyleegrl

Its heartbreaking, both his situation and reading your words about it.

No, you couldn't have helped, short of adopting. And you can't adopt every child.

Some kids have a hard row to hoe. Some of them are able to fight through it. Some aren't. And it sucks. I see quite a bit of it. Good kids that end up in a bad way. And I hate it.

Just keep being the change you want to see on your own personal level. And pay that value forward into your own kids. Its all you can do.

posted on Jan, 13 2015 @ 08:28 PM
You did what you could but he was taken away very young. He was still in a very I influential time of life after he left your class and obviously those influences affected him negatively. 17... an age where drugs play a role in an adolescence life even if just experimentally. I don't want to be heartless but your job was to teach him and you did your best including talking with his mother. Being a mentor for his life was not part of your job. That role fell to others who apparently let him down. Then came the point where his choices were his alone and you can't take the blame for what those choices were. Not even a neglectful mother can take the blame for his personal choices. Cut yourself some slack. You didn't let him down. If anything he let you down. I'm sorry you're upset.

reply to: smyleegrl

edit on 1132015 by AutumnWitch657 because: (no reason given)

posted on Jan, 13 2015 @ 08:41 PM

We've missed you!

Your angst over Denarius's precious life is palpable. I wish all teachers were as heartfelt and conscientious as you.

Pour youself into those other seventeen young souls and hope for the best.

It's all you can do and far more than the rest of us ever do.

posted on Jan, 13 2015 @ 09:04 PM

originally posted by: AutumnWitch657
Not even a neglectful mother can take the blame for his personal choices.

reply to: smyleegrl

Sorry,.... but I think you are SO WRONG... mothers (parents) are there to teach and be role models.

Remember the poem "Children Live What They Learn"?

posted on Jan, 13 2015 @ 09:07 PM
a reply to: tinker9917

Here is the copyrighted version:
Children Learn What They Live
By Dorothy Law Nolte

If children live with criticism,
They learn to condemn.
If children live with hostility,
They learn to fight.
If children live with ridicule,
They learn to be shy.
If children live with shame,
They learn to feel guilty.
If children live with encouragement,
They learn confidence.
If children live with tolerance,
They learn to be patient.
If children live with praise,
They learn to appreciate.
If children live with acceptance,
They learn to love.
If children live with approval,
They learn to like themselves.
If children live with honesty,
They learn truthfulness.
If children live with security,
They learn to have faith in themselves and others.
If children live with friendliness,
They learn the world is a nice place in which to live.

Copyright © 1972/1975 by Dorothy Law Nolte

posted on Jan, 13 2015 @ 09:12 PM
I think this is a societal issue, across the board. There are so many intelligent children whom do not have a chance to progress in life. The vast majority of reasons stemming from poverty and the oppression due to said poverty.

Until societally, we value ALL children as potentially wonderful Doctors, Scientists, Astronauts etc. - we will NEVER have the best of the best doing those careers. Only the ones that had the privilege of a background and/or lifestyle to support them to - and ironically/sadly many of those children are forced into careers due to family expectations, and do not choose them out of desire nor interest.

We currently have a culture where both parents must work, in many cases - and this will only become more pervasive in the next few years, especially when coupled with economic woes.

We must finally come to our senses and actually honour Motherhood as a society - because that "job" affects the ENTIRE future no less!

In today's economic climate, (so vastly different from the 50's & 60's) - stay-at-home Mothers, instead of being ejected from the job force and suffering the consequences of such, or staying in it and having strangers raise their children, MUST become a part of it. Yes that means being paid positions, at least if we truly value the outcome of Mothering - because only then can things turn around and children will get the support that they need and the opportunity to develop their potential.

It is certainly a better idea than the current model, wherein a single mother goes to work for a minimum wage that pays less than the child care she will need - no one is getting ahead here, and the children are the ones who are suffering. Society loses out as well, from the betterment, progress & mastery, that these children who fall through the cracks might have rendered in their lifetimes.

More people need to realize that everyone matters, if we are ever to evolve beyond our prejudices and restrictions placed on the children who are the future - like it or not.

a reply to: smyleegrl
smyleegrl, Bless your heart for being a beacon of light in this child's life. For no matter what he is going through currently and will go through; he will always remember that you believed in him and went that extra mile. You did all that you could do, and were a blessing to his life in that you really saw him for his possibilities and potential. [[HUGS]]
edit on 13-1-2015 by MoonBlossom because: Spelling

posted on Jan, 13 2015 @ 11:07 PM
Yes absolutely but Mother didn't put the gun in his hand nor did she pull the trigger. At what point does personal choice become the individuals responsibility?

a reply to: tinker9917

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