Some of you may know that when I was in college, I worked for nine months as a teaching assistant with special ed inmates at a local prison. (I know, I know. It sounds like the set-up to a joke.) When I left I was touched to receive, by way of the fantastic teacher I worked with, a Thank You card signed by a number of these incarcerated students. I thought you might enjoy reading a few of their hand-written messages (and might I add, their penmanship--for the most part--kicks the snot out of mine):
"Ms. M (my maiden name): Stay in college and don't quit school. We really apprecieate your help. We wish you could have stayed longer. Have a nice life. O___."
(Isn't that thoughtful? I wasn't really considering quitting school at the time, given that it was my final semester, but this note sent me into an existential tailspin; thanks to O's words of encouragement, I stuck with it.)
"Ms M: You was a kind person to take your time for given us a little knowledge that you had, that we didn't have. Have a wonderful life. L___."
(I should have more strongly emphasized subject-verb agreement in class. Dammit.)
"Ms. M: Hi How are you going? Take care and a mind is a terrible thing to waste. Peace, A____, aka Tae-Rock. 'Remember' that."
(Yes Tae-Rock, a mind is definitely a terrible thing to waste. I have indeed committed it to memory.)
"Thank you, Miss M, for helping my Teacher Miss G and we is going to miss you. Your friend T_____"
(Again, subject-verb agreement. You drill and drill and drill and somehow it just doesn't sink in.)
"Miss M, Thank you for being there for us helping us accomplish some work I wish you luck and hope you achieve what you are going to school for take care and stay strong. Your friend, R____"
(This was actually the second message encouraging me to "Stay strong." These inmates must be on to something, I thought, so I began a weight-training program that summer that gave me the most sculpted shoulders of my life.)
"Dear Ms. M this is I____ writing to you for Thanks. Because you helped me a whole lot with the things I am going to need in life and you pushed for me to get my H.S.E.D. and not a lot of people would do that. thanks a lot for your support and care. I hope everything works out for the best for you. The world needs more people that cares. good luck ... and take care. I____"
(Okay, this one actually made me a little teary-eyed, until I saw the poor subject-verb agreement again. I wish I could remember what he was in for; I think it was a weapons-related charge. I hope he's no longer behind bars. But you never know.)
I for one found all of this rather cool. I usually don't get this kind of appreciation from people who haven't been charged with a crime.
I don't know. Maybe we all need some emotionally disturbed, cognitively delayed, and learning disabled inmates in our lives.