When Janine Scott tells people that she teaches in Detroit, she often gets looks of pity.
“You poor thing!” she said people tell her as they make negative comments about the children she works with.
But those people don’t understand her students, she said.
“I ask [my students] things like why are you late, or why didn’t you do your homework or what happened or why didn’t you even come to school?” Scott said.
“And then I’ll get something like well, Miss Scott, I had to get my little brothers and sisters up, and had to feed them and and comb their hair and get them ready for school, had to wait on their bus with them. And my kids will come in third hour. Or they’ll tell me about the drama that happened last night or they’ll tell me about their friend that died in their arms the night before.”
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Scott told her story of teaching in the Detroit schools in a story booth outside the School Days storytelling event.
The event, cosponsored by Chalkbeat and the Secret Society of Twisted Storytellers, was held at the Charles H. Wright Museum last month and featured Detroit parents, educators, and a student telling stories on stage about schools in Detroit.
But the stories on stage were just a start. Chalkbeat is looking to tell many more stories about Detroit parents, students and teachers. The story booth set up by Chalkbeat and the Skillman Foundation in the lobby of the Wright Museum ahead of our event was one way to do this. (Skillman also supports Chalkbeat. Learn more about our funding here.)
When Scott came into the booth, she talked about things her students must endure to get to school at all.
“All of a sudden that little mediocre C that they get in my class becomes a great grade because in order for them to even navigate through that environment and get to school and learn something, that’s an amazing thing,” Scott said. “See a lot of people don’t even make it that far but my kids do.”
Watch Scott’s story below and if you have a story to tell about Detroit schools — or know someone who does — please let us know.