Difficult Demographic?

Asheville School is a private school on the west end of town. Like most private schools, tuition for four years would buy a small house. The students are easily engaged and eager to learn.

I guess. I don’t really know because I don’t work there.

I do, however, now work at a school on the other side of town — in more ways than one. Beginning next Monday, I’ll be working with young men and women, between fourteen and sixteen years old, who find themselves out of school because of either long-term suspension or adjudication.

They would constitute, for many — if not most — a “difficult demographic.” And they very well may be. One thing’s for certain: they represent an often neglected demographic.

My job description includes teaching subjects that I’m not certified in: science and social studies. But beyond that, I’ll be working with them in community service projects and helping with general “personal development.”

In all honest, with most of the folks I’ll be teaching, that means anger management and accepting authority. The practical consequence of this, I’m told, is that I’ll be yelled at from time to time, and cursed. The “stupid teacher” I heard sometimes last year will be tame in comparison. The old teacher’s adage “Don’t take anything personally” will certainly be a mantra for me.

Yet with great challenges come measurable rewards. Teaching at a private school would be easier, from many points of view, but I doubt it would be more rewarding than what I’ll be doing.

It will be tough, but my new boss assures me they provide psychiatric help…

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