For Kevin Raymond.
Kevin Raymond was an incredibly bright, charismatic, mischievous young man who he drove his teachers and his classmates up a wall. He had a great presence and a great smile, one that often preempted an act he knew he shouldn’t do. He and I argued often, but we laughed more. Kevin was a passionate and active athlete; he was always eating and never not hungry. I absolutely adored that boy.
I watched him mature immensely over the course of high school and I couldn’t have been prouder of him when he came back to visit to tell me about his college classes and how focused he was.
Kevin Raymond had so much potential; more than even he realized.
Often, when I tell strangers that I’m a teacher, they ask what age I teach. When I say tenth and eleventh graders, they usually express some combination of surprise and disgust, and I get it. Teenagers are risky and self-centered, with an undeveloped logic system and a seriously shifted circadian rhythm. The search to understand themselves, the world, and their place in it consumes them.
I don’t know any other age group, however, that’s is more fun to teach and more rewarding to watch mature.
As an educator, I have a unique opportunity to aid them along the journey that is adolescence. Even when most exhausted I can’t see myself doing anything less than my best to ensure they are happy, healthy, and successful. This work evokes an essence instinctively maternal in my core. I’m not a parent, but I often think that what I feel toward my students, must be akin to the love a mother has for her children.
That love, however, leaves me intensely vulnerable. Anytime my students hurt, my heart yearns to make their pain go away. Yet, I have no more control over what happens to them than I do over the weather. I know that I can’t truly protect my babies. Saturday was a grim and cruel reminder.
Previously, when other educators spoke about losing a student, I could only sympathize with them. Now, I too have been granted access to this unwonted club. I don’t think I’ve ever felt pain like that which I’ve felt when the phone vibrated Saturday morning.
As I type, my throat hurts, tears stream down my face, and my heart aches for his friends and family. Thinking about what his mom must be going through, breaks me right down the middle.
My only hope is that this tragedy compels me to pray harder, longer, and more often for our youth. I don’t want to lose any more of my babies to violence. I don’t want them to be another statistic. God, may you provide Kevin’s family with healing and peace. Watch over and guide his friends. May they seek lasting comfort and each other and our community and not in that which may harm them more. Amen.
To everyone who has reached out to me and offered prayers and condolences, thank you. To my coworkers and students, I love you and I am mourning with you.
Donate to a GoFundMe to cover the costs of Kevin’s funeral expenses by clicking here. Please give as you feel called.