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May 29, 2010
By Syed Arshad BRONZE, Hanover, Maryland
Syed Arshad BRONZE, Hanover, Maryland
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

Dan is 35 years old. His full name is Daniel Ben Alexander. He’s got a buzz cut. He’s 5’11. He appears to be taller than that, because he’s skinny. He works at an inner city high school. He loves to eat Mexican food, which would explain his obsession for Taco Bell. He is a Catholic, like the rest of his family. He loves to watch his Ravens play, and loves to watch her daughter Jen who’s only 3. He’s married to a wonderful woman, the love of his life, Emma. They first met in high school. Then things just took off from there.

Dan teaches History at an inner city school. He believes that he’s the most positive influence on the kids. He genuinely cares about them. They love him back, too. He’s been offered a much more lucrative position at a private school. He’s not sure about what to do.

Emma: “Have you thought about it, then?”
Dan: “I’m not certain. I really want that job, but these kids need me. I’m the only reason they still come to school. Most of them would’ve dropped out by now if it wasn’t for me.”
Emma: “I understand that. But you need to put your family first. If you accept that job, our fortunes will change.”
Dan: “They’re my family, too. I need to think about it. It’s a dream job, no question about that.”
Emma: “Then why is it so hard for you to make up your mind, then?”
Dan: “Because I see so much potential, so much talent in my students. They need someone to rally round them. They don’t have someone to help them out.”
Emma: “But Daniel, (she’d only call him by his first name when she was serious) what about Jen? What about me? What about us? Don’t forget you have a family to provide for.”
Dan: “You’re calling me selfish?”
Emma: “No. I am just saying that you need to put your own family first. They need help, I agree. But who’s going to lend us a hand? Nobody.”
Dan: “Let me think about it. It’s my decision to make.”
Emma: “Your decision that’ll affect our future, don’t forget that.”

Dan is conflicted. Even after having the conversation with Emma, he’s not sure what he should do. He knows money can’t solve every problem, but most of them. He can’t accuse Emma of not working diligently. She works about 50 hours every week, a little less than him. He knows that the job he’s offered will give him insurance, something he doesn’t have right now.

Mr. Smith is the principal of South Harmon High School. He wants Dan to make the switch. He and Dan used to work together at a different school, so he’s familiar with Dan and his problems.

Mr. Smith: “Well, Dan. I presume you’ve made your decision?”
Dan: “I… I have not.”
Mr. Smith: “Dan. I understand your situation. Believe me, I’ve been there. I didn’t want to leave Saint Morgan, but I had to. Bills were piling up. I couldn’t resist such a grand opportunity. I only did what I did to help my family out. I know you’re facing the same problems I did when I made the switch.”
Dan: “So you’re content with yourself?”
Mr. Smith: “Yes. Dan, you need to understand that you can’t help out everyone. You’ve done your part. This isn’t your problem, or even mine. You have done all you could. And I am proud of you for that. You kind of remind me of myself, 10 years ago. I feel your passion. The burning desire you have. But you have a responsibility to your family. Family always comes first. Be aware of that. As much as you want to assist your students, someone will always be miserable.
Dan: “Then I should help them as well.”
Mr. Smith: “I don’t think you understand it easily. You know that I wanted to help them out too, right?”
Dan: “Yes. No one could argue with that. You were perhaps the only thing that kept them going.”
Mr. Smith: “I was. But even I realized that it wasn’t possible. Take the job.”
Dan: “But…”
Mr. Smith: “You can still help out the kids, on weekends. Volunteer. Tutor them after school or something. There are so many possibilities. They’re endless. Think about it”
Dan: “O.K.”
Mr. Smith: “O.K.?”
Dan: “I accept.”
Mr. Smith: “Good decision. I am proud of you. You are the best teacher I have ever seen. You care about your students maybe even more than their parents. I respect you for that. Go home and tell Mrs. Alexander. Also, don’t forget to tell your students to work hard. Now more than ever, because they don’t have you anymore. I am sure you have taught them well.”
Dan: “I have. That’s the one thing I know. That’s why I won Teacher of the Year award.”
Mr. Smith: “Goodbye, Daniel.”
Dan: “Have a good evening, Sir.”

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