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I once heard my Big Mama say, “When pressure is applied to somebody’s life, a precious gem is being formed inside.” My Big Mama was always saying weird stuff like that but none of it made any sense to me. I always wondered what she meant. Little did I know that the beginning of the gem making process was about to begin for me.

Hi, my name is Little Derrick but they call me Little D. I’m 8 years old. Welcome to my hood.

Talk about having fun… we knew what having fun was all about in my neighborhood! We would hang out in the driveway watching all of the shiny cars drive through playing the latest tracks. When the beat would drop, I could literally feel my chest vibrating. I can hear the music playing now in my head, “Kiki, do you love me? Are you riding? Say you'll never ever leave from beside me.” Man I love that song!

We played outside a lot at night because mama always had company. Mr. Charlie and Ms. Darlene would come over almost every day. They mostly sat around and listened to music and drank beer. Sometimes when mama would send me to the cooler to get a beer for her; she would let me pop it open and sometimes I would take a swig cause I wanted to see what the beer tasted like. LOL!! It tasted kind of nasty. It sure didn’t taste like soda pop, that’s for sure. I remember when I popped open my first can. White bubbling foam would come gushing out of the can. Mama would get mad at me when that happened and she would send us in the back room. Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you that I have a brother and sister. Their names are Russell and Kamryn.

To be completely honest with you, it was never fun when mama had company at our house. I didn’t mind the loud music and the drinking. It was the other stuff that I hated. I could always tell when something weird was about to happen at the house cause Mr. Charlie would have those funny looking science tubes with him. You know the skinny glass tubes with the round bulbs at the end. I use to get excited when he brought them to our house because I thought him and mama were doing Science experiments. Mama said that we couldn’t participate because the experiment involved using fire and she didn’t want us to get burned. In my heart I never felt like Mama was telling me the honest truth.

When they got ready to start the Science experiments she would say, “Little D, ya’ll gone in the backroom and do your homework now. Make sure Russ and Kam do all their work cause I don’t want them teachers calling me tomorrow. Gone on now and make sure ya’ll get something to eat before ya’ll go to bed.”

I would try my best to make sure that we did what Mama said but we would always end up playing the game and having fun laughing and talking until we fell asleep in our clothes and shoes. We may not have had our homework done but we were already dressed for school the next day because we never got undressed like Mama told us to.

Teachers have you ever had a Little Derrick in your classroom? He comes to class most days of the week with incomplete homework. He sleeps through some of your lessons. He might be aggressive and start fights with other students. He isn’t always well groomed or happy to be at school.

How are you choosing to connect with this student so you can build a relationship with him?

Is he scolded for not completing his homework repeatedly? Have you been forced to write him a referral because he just won’t stay awake in your class and comply with your classroom rules? Do you send him straight to the counselor’s office so they can deal with him?


Have you asked him, “How are you doing today? I noticed that you are sleepy a lot in class. Were you able to get enough rest last night? How are things going at home? Would you like me to help you with your homework during lunch? That would give us some special time together so we can visit. I’m here for you Little Derrick if or when you want to talk to me.”

I cannot express this enough, it is utterly IMPORTANT for educators to connect and build relationships with our students who may live in environments like Little Derrick’s.

We want our classrooms to be a safe haven for all students; not just the students who are complicit with our expectations.

People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.

Our students are people too.

Please Love and Share this short read with other educators and parents alike who are trying to make a difference to show compassion and kindness in someone’s life.

Until next time,

Live, Laugh, & Learn

With Mrs. Wright

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