Earlier this school year I listened to This American Life’s podcast about the resilience of Harper High School students and teachers despite losing 29 students to gun violence over the course of a year. 29 students dead. No national news coverage. Names forgotten. Death toll rising in that Chicago neighborhood as we speak.

Listening to students speaking pretty transparently about gang culture and community life, I couldn’t help but notice the similarities between my students and those interviewed by Alex Kotlowitz. I kept thinking, “That sucks, but at least our community isn’t that bad.”

Fast forward 6 months, I get frightening email from a colleague. Funeral arrangements for a former student shot and killed last weekend. He left behind a young daughter, friends, and family. This is heartbreaking.



I’m assuming many of my students will be pretty torn up about this at the start of the school year.

Summer Planning:

-Ways to help students cope with grief

-Ways to empower students to make safe choices

-Ways to integrate visual arts to understand the culture of our community

-Action plan for combating violence (?)

– Update science curriculum with Common Core Standards and Next Generation Standards


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