Today was the day I visited Young correctional institution and one of my favorite students. I had been his assistant principal and grew very close to him as I described in two previous blog posts. The first one was all over the place and filled with anger Link Here. The second was a call to action as I feel as if we all need to do more. Link Here.
So there we were +Holly Sage and I going to Young correctional at 2:30 pm this afternoon. As we waited to go in, I realized I was not able to carry my wallet in. So I quickly ran back to the car and dropped it off. On the return trip I heard "Mr. Timm" being yelled out from the prison windows on the second floor on 3 separate occasions. I later realized this was "my kid" that I was going to visit, but at first it shook me a bit as to think that I probably did know more than one person in this facility.
We entered with approximately 15 other visitors for other inmates, and went through security, up to the second floor and into a medium sized room with partitions, plexi-glass windows, metal stools, and phones to communicate with the other side. At first "our kid" was not there, we had to wait and wonder what was going on. We had a feeling that he was embarrassed. We got this based on a conversation Holly had with his mother earlier in the day. My feelings about his possible embarrassment and humiliation made me feel good! I was glad that he may be embarrassed and humiliated about his situation. I selfishly want him to hurt a bit. I did and do not want him to easily forget how his actions have affected so many people that care about him.
After a good few minutes, he entered and immediately I saw that smile, that demeanor that reminded me of myself. For a second I lost my anger and saw that kid that came to my office all the time for making a sarcastic comment or a misplaced joke at the wrong time. Both things that always reminded me of myself and got me in trouble at his age.
I went to the phone first to talk and immediately asked him how he was and then realized that was not where my emotions were going to take me. I wanted to make statements, I wanted him to hear me, I am sorry, but I did not care how he was... I wanted him to know how much it hurt me that he was there, call it selfish, but that is where I went for a few moments.
I did not sit down right away, I stayed standing, but bent over as the phone cord was not that long and leaned into the glass. I started to make statements like, "you can't look me in the eye can you..." and asked things like, "what were you thinking?" I did not yell as it was a pretty quiet room and I had read the visitors room rules earlier and realized yelling and profanity would not be tolerated. I did not come here to get myself kicked out right away.
The tone of the conversation quickly became more calm as Holly and I went back and forth sharing observations, talking to him about his brothers, and telling him how important he was. For me it was necessary to grasp on to something that would promise me that this would never happen again. Towards the end of the hour long conversation I did not feel as if I had that satisfaction. I asked Holly to talk a final time.
He needed a passion, he needed new friends, he needed to focus, and many other things that I just threw out. I was getting angry again as I saw a member of my school community locked up. I wanted him again to know that his actions so deeply affected people (me and others) some of us that had not spoken to him in nearly 5 years. I never got what I needed, but I went there for him, to show him we cared, no matter what, we would be supportive. I think we more than accomplished that. I left with a good feeling, that he knows we are out there ready to help, his extended community.
There is a silver lining too, as it appears that he is going to get probation and be out very soon if not tomorrow. He has promised to visit us and I can't wait to give him a hug and talk to him not from a place of anger, but a place of hope and belief. I promised him today that we are here for him, we have resources, and can help. He stated that he "was in the wrong place at the wrong time." He needed to know that we forgive and want to help. I wanted him to know that his community extends beyond his family and friends. His community is everyone that has come in contact with him.
His horrible story of the last few weeks affected me in ways that I never would have imagined. Maybe because it was just such a surprise. Maybe because I so see myself in him and was remined today why.
I want all "my current and former kids" to know that we are willing and able to help. We are here for them, we do this for them, that is the only reason. To make sure they are successful, whatever that might mean to them.