Innocence rules in school

It was the mid 1960s in the United States. Civil rights legislation had been passed and schools in the South needed white teachers in black schools to comply with desegregation laws. I was making a move to Florida and decided I would like to help, so I accepted a fourth-grade teaching position at an all black elementary school in the heart of Miami. I developed a good relationship with the principal and the teachers, who were all showing me exceptional kindness and care. I looked forward to weekly teachers’ meetings that began with inspirational readings and the singing of spiritual songs. 

My experience in the classroom, however, was continually frustrating. The children were constantly testing me, and since I did not use a ruler or a belt to discipline them, forms of punishment some were used to, they questioned my authority. None of the other black teachers were having the problems I was enduring, and I felt the students’ parents did not want me teaching their children. A girl in my class who was particularly smart found countless ways to humiliate me in front of the class. When I did not respond with anger, she looked for other ways to get me upset. I felt I was in a downward spiral. 

The protection of 'amazing' grace
December 31, 2012

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