Portrait 01

“What’s the meaning of all of this!?” shouted Andy as she lay crumpled on her bedroom floor. She was exhausted, teaching high school students and grading assignments for the past twelve hours since she woke up at six in the morning.

Time and time again, day in and day out — the story never seemed to change. Whiny, unmotivated students. Barely passing the state requirements. Parents who didn’t care or had no vision of what it would be like for their children to actually succeed. Just trying to survive.

How had she gotten herself into this mess? Why had she gotten herself into this mess?

Andy counted backwards the number of years on her hand, “One, two, three, four…”

It had been five years since she had graduated university, four since she obtained her teaching credential. She went to one of the most prestigious public schools in the country, then went private afterwards for a Master’s in education. Raised from a relatively affluent family with a drive to succeed, Andy’s accomplishments slowly began to lose their luster as she encountered more and more situations that had no explanation.

Throughout high school, being the top of her class brought her a sense of pride and accomplishment. Straight A’s, captain of the Varsity tennis team, she even had the eye of some of the cutest guys on the basketball team (but that didn’t matter, as her ultra religious parents instilled in her a sense of direction and purpose not to get bogged down by silly things).

However, none of that seemed to matter when she later went on to university. War, famine, disease. Corrupt politicians, unfair injustices, systems that needed to change. She met new and interesting people also, but what would impact her the most was listening to the story of a homeless man named Jake at a local shelter.

Jake was forty-nine, living on the streets. (Well, streets is subjective. He actually had so much charisma that his gifted ability to win a heart snagged him a sleeping spot next to local 7–11 in exchange for being the neighborhood watch).

He was once a spritely young man, short stop on his high school baseball team. Life was on the up and up for him afterwards. Beautiful girlfriend, taking classes at community college, on the way to study electrical engineering. But that all crashed down when he went through a rough patch. Girlfriend left him, got involved with drugs. Next thing he knew he was dealing on the streets to get by and had quite a few close calls with the nine millimeter.

So here he was, roughly twenty-five years later. Cleaned up, not dealing anymore, but definitely never sober. Jake’s story tore a gaping hole into Andy’s view of all life had to offer.

She assessed his socioeconomic background (poor), race (African-American), his family history (estranged parents, with the father stuck in a cult). It didn’t surprise Andy that Jake was where he was at; his life was almost destined to tragedy.

It was with this idea that better teachers and better education could help solve these issues in generations coming up, and the entire reason she threw her life into becoming a teacher. However, as Andy recounted the past year of her life — it all seemed so pointless. Nothing would ever change, she thought as she let out a defeated sigh.

Nothing would ever change.

Could no thing ever change?