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Sunday, August 17, 2014

For Shirlene

  My 4th grade class in the 2002-2003 school year was fun and energetic.   One of the amazing children I was fortunate enough to have as a student was Shirlene.  She was spunky and happy and loved me from the moment we met.  I  adored her from moment number one as well. Shirlene had to work hard in every subject area, nothing was easy but she never gave up.  Her smile was easy and she was the first person with a word of encouragement whenever one was needed.  In kindergarten Shirlene lost her mother in a car accident yet she wasn't bitter or scared or sad.  She was absolutely full of life and dreams.  She loved art and singing and dancing. She hugged me often and told me she loved me, which is one of the highlights of being an elementary school teacher....the people you work with like you!  She even helped orchestrate a baby shower for me on the last day of school.  

In early June of 2008, while sitting in a car at a convenience store waiting for her cousin to return with a soda, Shirlene , age 16, was shot in the forehead and murdered.  Her murderer has never been found.  

I think of Shirlene often.  

This week, as the events in Ferguson sat heavy on my heart I thought about Shirlene even more than usual.  
She mattered.
Her death mattered.
Yet you'd never know if you based that on the media coverage it received.
Since she was  
African American
and  poor
and from the wrong area of town
it wasn't really news.
But she mattered.
She was just like my girls...she loved art and singing and dancing.
She had dreams.  

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