Tuesday, December 29, 2009
I still remember the flowing white dress and the long braided hair as she flew into the room. I thought, if there are angels, and angels are Black, then this woman is an angel.
That was my first impression of Mrs. Neely, Jordan's mom, the first time I met her. Mrs. Neely knew everything that went on in the school and when homework helpers started, she insisted that Jordan attend. Of course Jordan assured his mom that he would but Mrs. Neely wasn't born yesterday and what she didn't see with her own eyes, she didn't believe so she decided to check up on him.
I happened to be the first teacher Mrs. Neely ran into that afternoon. She enquired about Jordan's whereabouts but I could not help her as I had no idea who Jordan was. She kept questioning me and expected answers that I could not give her and finally she left.
The next time homework helpers met, she arrived again only this time she had Jordan with her. She brought him over to me, introduced him, told me he needed help in math and asked me to get him help. There was something about him and something about her that drew me to them and I told her I would help him myself.
Jordan was a bright kid, but he was also a kid who was not interested in school. His mom knew this and did her darnedest to keep him on track and make sure he graduated on time (which he did.) He was one of the middle sons in a family of five children and the only one who stressed her out with his school work. She understood that he was different but loved and cared for him as much as she did for her other four children. She was constantly on the phone with his teachers, not to find out what the teachers were doing wrong but to find out what her son was not doing so she could get on his case and get him to do it. Some teachers found her overbearing. Me, I adored her. Jordan was never even in my class but we spoke often because as I got to know him, I wanted him to succeed as much as she did.
Jordan graduated but I still got to see Mrs. Neely occasionally. She always came to school concerts (entire family in tow) to see whichever child was performing at the moment. She was at award assemblies and graduations. Her other children were scholars but they were no more special to her than Jordan. Jordan is still having some trouble finding his way in this world but his mom (and dad) are right there to help him whenever it is necessary.
Mrs. Neely, I know you will never read this, but I loved and respected you from that first day. The world needs more angels like you.