This weekend, I went to my first quinceanera party. The theme, though I'm not sure why exactly, was Phantom. The birthday girl was a student I had in Numeracy last year, who is a great kid, but has extreme math phobia/anxiety/learning disabilities. She grew comfortable with me as a teacher, and so we were able to have a productive year. Though it is hard to watch a student who works so hard, and is so good natured about everything, struggle so mightily with such basic concepts.
In any case, I was there with about four or five other teachers at the "Reserved for DCP Teachers" table, which was placed up in front, right among the immediate family tables. Both the girl and her mother were very happy that we had come, and it was a great feeling. She was wearing an unbelieveable dress - imagine a relatively small, thin girl stuck in the middle of a 5-foot diameter gold satin gown with ruffles. She told us it made her hips hurt! The 7 damas were wearing gold satin gowns and masks as well, and the 7 male partners were wearing tuxes with gold shirts of some sort, masks, and black capes. There must have been at least 50 other students there - more kept showing up as the night progressed. The party started with food and mariachis playing for a couple of hours. Then, the 15 kids did a couple of choreographed dances to some kind of techno-phantom remix. They left for a costume change and came back to do another dance, and then did another change back into their original dress. Apparently, these dances are choreographed specially for each quinceanera. I've always had students in the past miss class or not get homework done becase they had "quinceanera practice". Now I understand a lot better what kind of work actually goes into making this happen.
Overall, it was a lot of fun. All the students came up to us and shook hands, gave hugs, and were genuinely happy to see us and talk with us. A couple of my Algebra 2 honors students saw me and told me they were getting together later this weekend at the library to study for the test! I even got to see a bunch of former students who have either graduated, or ended up not staying at DCP. This kind of welcoming, community spirit is not only great to be part of - it's really interesting to me... thinking back to my Bar Mitzvah (which is really a very similar event, when it comes down to it), my friends and I would not have been quite so happy to see our teachers there. It would have felt weird, and I definitely would not have run up to my math teacher and given her a hug. No matter how rough our classes are at times, or what type of discipline problems we deal with at school, I'm always amazed by how connected our students and their families are to us, to the school, and to each other.
At school today, students kept coming up to us and asking why we left the party so early. They wanted to dance with us!
Sunday, November 05, 2006