For students who are struggling, sometimes the difference between success and failure can start when a teacher takes the time to listen.
In these two stories from our National Teacher’s Initiative, teachers go beyond the classroom to help their kids.
In 2004, Kate Musick (L) was teaching third grade at T.C. Walker Elementary school in Gloucester, Virginia. When Harleé Patrick (R) walked into the room, Musick saw a troubled child.
Harleé is now a teenager, and the two came to StoryCorps to talk about how she made it through that year.
The second story comes from Los Angeles, where 19-year-old Jose Catalan, who is studying to become a math teacher, sat down with his former high school teacher Carlos Vizcarra to talk about how they became friends.
Click here for the transcript.
Harleé Patrick (HP): I didn't have the best home life. Like, I was always tossed between my grandma's house and my mom's house. And my dad wasn't really in the picture and mom was doing things that nobody was proud of, like drugs, and I think one of the most difficult things when I was young was my mom getting locked up. Her not being there was like, what do we do?
KM: I don't know if you remember this, but one day you and I came out and we sat down in the hallway and you started talking about something that you had witnessed the night before. And my heart literally was breaking in that hallway and there was nothing more that I wanted to do than to protect you. But I also knew that there were certain boundaries that teachers had to work within. And I really tried to figure out a way to help you realize that what you were witnessing was not your fault and that we were there to help you, always. And what I think amazed me the most from the very beginning is when people reached out to you, you chose to grab onto their hands rather than push away.
HP: Sooner or later, I noticed there's people that care. It's one of the best feelings you could ever have when you're going through rough times at home. And even when I felt like giving up, you never gave up on me.
KM: The fact was you had a family outside of the house, and you knew that. And we're still here. And I think you know that we'll always be there for you.
Jose Catalan (JC): My name is Jose Catalan, I am 19 years old. I'm going to have an interview with my favorite teacher.
Carlos Vizcarra (CV): My name is Carlos Vizcarra, I'm 38 years old.
JC: I think it started when we went running. I had come here recently and we basically just talked about what I used to do in Mexico.
CV: And after that, of course, you joined the running team and became one of the best runners at school.
JC: I remember you saw me running in a pair of soccer shoes. And you told me, "Are you running in that?" But then you decided to help me and you bought me that pair of shoes. I felt like crying because nobody had done such a great thing for me. And that's when I started to know that you would always help me.
CV: Probably because I see a lot of me in you.
JC: Well we went through the same things in life.
CV: Yeah. Coming from a family that doesn't have a lot of money, worrying about your parents not being to pay the rent, or your parents being taken away by immigration. Remember that one time that you got very emotional in my classroom after school?
JC: [Laughs] Yeah. I just felt like I needed to let it out, and you are the only teacher who I trust and I feel confident talking to. And I consider you more than a teacher; I see a friend. I also like to thank you for never quitting on me. I always thought of being a teacher but I didn't know what a good teacher and a bad teacher was until I saw the way you taught.
CV: I would love to mentor you when you start teaching, and I think that you are going to make a great teacher. And I definitely look forward to a long friendship with you.
JC: It's pretty amazing the way you are--not only as a teacher, but as a person too.
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