By the end of that meeting, though, she’d given up. She had also gotten into a heady confrontation with the site supervisor and revealed a lot of what she really thought about the school, its staff, and why the kids were so far behind. She was careful never to say it, and in fact said a lot of self-deprecating things instead, but I could tell that in her opinion, there was one simple problem: the school, and the rest of the after school staff, were not as hard-working as her, not as smart as her, and had low expectations for behavior. I don’t even think she knew that’s what was coming through in what she was saying.
So I went from identifying with her in an empathetic, “ohhh honey” way to identifying with her in an “oh crap was I just like her?” way. And on some bad days, I think the answer would have been yes.