Brandon

Another school year is in full swing and I am blessed to have a sweet group of kids.  It is a mixed group of cultures, and I love that!

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A teacher friend posted an article on social media and now I would like to share it.  I was granted permission by the author – Sarah Tiller – to share her writing.

“When I was in third grade, in the middle of winter, a fellow classmate came to class dressed in a tank top, shorts, and the same dirty tennis shoes he wore everyday.  The boy’s name was Brandon.  He was very skinny, had dark circles under his eyes, very thin hair, and was on the lower end of the curve in class.  I think about day often.  I wore a purple, puffy coat, long sleeve shirt and long jeans that I argued about wearing with my mom that morning.  I walked from my mom’s warm mini-van into the school.  Brandon (I didn’t fully realize it then) stood outside waiting on his bus.  He then rode a cold bus to school and walked in the same doors as me.  All the while, he was wearing his power-rangers tank top and shorts.”  

“Our teacher was in horror when he walked in.  She wrapped him in a blanket and had him sit in front of her space heater she was using to warm the room.  Shortly after he got hot chocolate and was called into the office.  I remember my teacher telling the class about how Brandon was very cold, and that he would be getting special treatment and none of us were to say anything about it.  Though I never asked him, my teacher, or (later) my parents, I wondered why he got hot chocolate.  After all, we were all cold, weren’t we?  I do remember that when he came back from the office he was wearing sweatpants and a sweatshirt, holding his previous clothes in a Walmart bag.  We were all trying not to stare at him as he walked his bag to his locker. As an adult, I weep every time I remember this image.” 

The author often thinks about Brandon, where he is, and did he ever know love.  “I wonder if he ever understood gratitude for our teacher caring for him that day and applied that encouragement to the rest of his life.  I wonder what he remembered about me.”

Many people responded with stories of their own. Some of them shared stories of classmates like Brandon.  For example, one woman gave her new coat away to a shivering classmate at recess and when the woman’s mother found out (even though they did not have much money either) she was very proud. Another gave away a hoodie to a younger shivering student waiting at the bus stop and never asked for it back.

Others were teachers, like myself, who shared heartfelt stories of personal experiences with students like Brandon.  Teachers shared how they bought new shoes, warm clothes, jackets, toothbrushes, toothpaste, provided wash cloths and soap, bought breakfast, paid for lunches and provided snacks.  They kept a watchful eye and made sure these students felt loved even if it was just for the hours they were in their classroom.

Still others were “the Brandon” in the story.  One person shared that she and her siblings wore dirty clothes that were always too big or too small.  Her parents always had parties so she seldom had a good nights rest.  They were always hungry, always cold, and never clean.  She weighed 56 pounds in the sixth grade. She was teased and laughed at by her peers.  As an adult she now has a donate clothing closet for middle school girls and also makes care packages.

Did you know Brandon?

As I start this new year, I offer a prayer for all the Brandon’s in the classrooms across our country who are starting a new school year.  May they be blessed with the love and support of a good teacher, and the kindness of their peers.