Friday, January 11, 2013

Perseverance: You Don't Get 'Atta-boys, Trophies, or Ribbons for Doing Your Job

"In Perseverance; thunder crashes, sails billow, waves toss the fragile boat. We see that the clouds are about to break. The sea will calm; the sailor's perseverance will soon be rewarded by a return to God's safe heaven. Perhaps this painting can assure each of us that if we can simply persevere, God's hand of love will soon disperse each storm." 

    - Thomas Kinkade ( 1958-2012) American Artist

Perseverance -noun
steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state,etc., especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.
Theology continuance in a state of grace to the end, leading to eternal salvation.
1300–50; Middle English perseveraunce  < Middle French perseverance  <Latin persevÄ“rantia.  See persevere-ance

Every morning I have the golden opportunity to engage the youth of America, Illinois, Chicago, Bronzeville and St. Gabe's Parish in Canaryville.   I bring a baker's dozen young gents to Leo High School.  All but one senior are under the age of 17 - ten white boys and three black gents. 

The senior is a quiet studious and good humored young man from Bronzeville already accepted at Rutgers University in his native New Jersey.  His Dad worked there for years, but moved back to Chicago last year. Though proud to be a a Wendell Phillips Alumnus, this successful and proud man wanted no part of the Chicago Public Schools 2012-2013 for his son and chose Leo High School, a Catholic " pay school."His son was brought up to fear God, honor his family and work.  His son's efforts and achievements are the payoff for Old School values rooted in family and reinforced by a  Leo Catholic education.

Catholic education is centered around Christ.  Christ is the reason for the school and everything that happens  with regard to a school's mission must be centered on Christ.  Most kids at Leo are not Catholic, but nearly all are Christian and a couple of the guys are Muslim -Nation of Islam.   Having God as the stablizing center -post of their school, reminds the guys that stability is essential.

Most of our guys are not as blessed with the stability and steady-direction at home the above mentioned gent enjoys. Our kids are, what the PC would call, financially challenged - in Lionese, piss poor. Sadly, most have no male presences in the home and too many have toxic male influences - one poor kid had to fight with his Dad in order to get Pa's Bear Game pals to stop smoking dope in the kid's bedroom. 

The TV Shows Shameless and My Babies Mommas are all too real  in order to be in any way amusing or valuable - other than be deemed  Chicago Values. More so, the kids living out these scripts of those shows here in Chicago have moms who just might drink up their tuition money, buy no groceries, purchase no winter clothing while Dad does a nickel for boosting freight or slinging dope. Funny?  If you are the type of person who enjoys tormenting the handicapped, I suppose it might.  Interestingly enough, it seems to me that  the very people who are offended by ethnic humor, find racism in their morning bowl of Wheaties, worry about how many sheets of Charmin other people are using, or developing educational agendas for public education match this Shameless fan- demographic. Revolution and radicalism only grow out of economic and social comfort - Hyde Park, Evanston, the Lakeshore & etc.  There are no Marxists in actual school foxholes. I have yet to run into one, after forty years in teaching. Teachers who confront miseries seem to load up on common sense.

Despite a rainbow of handicaps, these young gents achieve.  The semester grades are coming out this week and my van load has achieved a modest record of achievement - mind you, I did not factor in the young senior's 3.86 Average into the mix; thus a sampling of twelve ( two black and ten white) - 2.36 Cumulative Van GPA!  I'll take it.

One kid spent two weeks in the hospital
One kids brother was murdered in November
One kid's Mom spent some time CCDC
One kid ditches school at the drop of a hat, but has maintained 3.9 in Algebra

All of them are at core sweet and smart kids; all of them enjoy busting my aged Aggies and all of them manage to pull themselves out of bed, find something like clean socks and school clothes, eat something other than Flamin' Hotz and Mountain Dew Red and learn.

None of these kids, other than the senior who will attend Rutgers, appear to have been told that purpose is essential to living, but they manage to have great perseverance. . .my God, do they ever.

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