Teaching tip: Even for teachers, learning does not stop at 3:00 pm.

That autumn I heard an advertisement on the radio for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), a program where volunteers are trained to serve as legal representatives for children in foster care. I called for information, and my husband and I attended CASA’s Harvest Ball, where we learned more about opportunities to help kids “in the system.” Beautiful brochures and glossy magazines inspired me to become a volunteer, but the photos and stories also clearly indicated that even CASA was rarely serving children like Bryan. 

I also decided, over the Christmas break, that I would pursue an opportunity to earn certification in “VI,” teaching students with visual impairments. The VI teacher who had supported my classroom was retiring, and a state university offered a probational certification program which would enable me to begin classes in the summer and start teaching in the fall. I knew I wanted this opportunity to move forward in my field; I had not expected it to happen so quickly. Questions of how I would be able to leave my students, and especially of how I would be able to speak up for Bryan, were constantly on my mind.

While focused on this professional transition and on doing my very best for the remainder of the school year, I was once again unprepared for the next trial, perhaps the worst I experienced as Bryan’s teacher.