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Billy, the Boy Who Loved Pigeons: A Tragic Texas Tale

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My teaching career was broad and expansive. The first decade was spent teaching in small districts the size of Benjamin ISD (97 students) and as large as Wichita Falls ISD (15,000). The next fifteen years were spent teaching in metro districts the size of Fort Worth and Dallas, and the last years teaching everything from American History to Ancient History in state college and private universities. I taught four years in Fort Worth before being promoted to Vice Principal of a large middle school in South Fort Worth.

My first meeting with my principal, I was told my first job was to get rid of the drugs and prostitutes on or near the campus. Then the bad teachers.

Billy, the Boy Who Loved Pigeons: A Tragic Texas Tale

Photo: Pixabay

The 2,500-plus populated campus was indeed a challenge. The principal arrived at the school late, took an early lunch, and was off campus by 3 p.m. The other Vice Principal and I managed the school. I was charged with security, transportation, special education, and the evaluation of about half the 120 member staff.

On any given day, around a hundred referrals would be made by teachers for discipline. My options for punishment were: talk and return them to class, time out, corporal punishment, suspension, and threaten. I never used the first and last possibilities. Each year we lost numerous students to death caused by drug overdose, incarceration, auto accidents, murder, illness, and suicide. My most horrid job was attending funerals of students on behalf of the school. About a dozen each year. My responsibility was to represent the school and testify to the importance of the deceased to our school. Other church representatives, relatives, and friends would stand and offer condolences and say kind things about the deceased.

My second year, a kid named Billy moved into the neighborhood. He was small, shabbily dressed, and reeked of poverty. He could neither read nor write but got into fights on a daily basis. He usually got beat up and taken to the nurse’s office. I investigated. Many times he was the instigator of the misbehavior. For his own protection, I placed him in a small room adjacent to my office. Teachers brought his work, and during the day, with the assistance of the librarian, we helped with his lessons.

Billy, the Boy Who Loved Pigeons: A Tragic Texas Tale
Photo: Pixabay

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