Teaching adult basic education is many things – rewarding, challenging, fulfilling . . .
It’s never boring.
My students wanted to visit our campus library. Anything to inspire my low-level readers – literacy for the win! It was a beautiful day; one of those rare days that are sunny, but not too hot. Breezy, but without the bite. We set off, a rookie teacher with three students, full of optimism.
By the time we reached the main building, my student with the prosthetic leg was in pain. I started feeling a bit less optimistic. I asked security for a wheelchair: no luck. We rested for a bit in the lobby, and she wanted to continue to the library.
We made it to the library and proceeded to get everyone set up with library cards. Seeing students gain independence in life skills really is one of the most rewarding parts of my job. We browsed for a bit, poking around hopefully for appropriate level material in the sea of college-level reading, and then it was time to head back to our classroom.
I ran ahead of my students and checked in with security again.
“Is there any way you could give my student a ride back to our building?”
They graciously agreed, but we still had to navigate from the main building exit to the sidewalk, a long trek up a slight incline. My student set out cheerfully, but in just a few yards it was obvious that she was in pain. One of my other students is a very take-charge, help-out kind of person. Before I could even panic, she had wrapped an arm around her friend’s waist and hoisted her a few inches off the ground, balancing her on a sturdy hip.
“Hold my pocketbook,” she said, thrusting it at the third student. He beamed, always happy to be asked to help. The bold floral pocketbook completed his outfit of plaid shorts and striped shirt.
I was instructed to carry all the books, because I was “too short to help otherwise.”
She had a point.
So, off we went, up the covered walkway: two students in a sort of three-legged – well, not a race – another student a bit confused but dutifully acting as sherpa, and me, carrying a stack of books and questioning my life choices.
The security guard pulled the car around.
“Oh laaawwwwww,” my student declared. “Y’all are gonna put me in a po-lice car?”
The guard asked if she wanted to sit in the front seat or the back.
“There aren’t any handles in the back of a po-lice car!”
Guess that settled it, so we settled the student into the front seat. The other two students and I double-timed it back to our building.
By the time we got there, I had a plan.
The chairs in the computer lab have wheels. Wheels, chair. Close enough to a wheelchair, right?
My students stationed themselves to wait for the car, which, due to the one-way arrangement of our parking lot, took several minutes to arrive. They helped their friend out of the car and up the short ramp to the main door of our building, where I was waiting with the chair. Now, we just had to get down the hall and to our classroom.
Piece of cake.
“Look out! Watch out for the wall!”
Oops. My steering was off, and I’d narrowly avoided running my student into the wall. Whew, close one. Back on course, we headed down the hallway. Just a few more yards to go.
The chair seemed to have hit a snag. A snag, in the form of a prosthetic leg, which had been pulled straight off the student’s body when her jeans got caught under the wheel of the chair.
“That thing has caused me nothing but trouble today,” she announced.
We did make it back to the classroom, in time to dismiss for the day.
“This has sure been a mighty nice day,” my student said, somehow setting her prosthesis to rights. “Thank you so much. A mighty nice day, yes it was.”