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Remembering Russell

Remembering          Russell

By Jehanne Helene Beaton

The last time Russell was in my classroom, he hid the cut on his hand from me. A deep, brown-red gouge, nickel-size in diameter. I pointed at it with concern and his palm disappeared into a fist, then slid back into his sleeve. Russell refused to explain.

Nearly four years later, Russell's angular 16-year-old face appeared in a Saturday edition of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. A police mug shot accompanied an article reporting his arrest for killing a 40-year-old man during an attempted robbery. The article said Russell stripped the man of his shoes and wallet before shooting him in the head. It further suggested that the crime was committed while Russell was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

I was heartbroken. I kept saying to myself, "Russell was a nice kid. He was a nice kid."

Maybe there will always be students for whom teachers hold regret, especially when we know we short-changed them, when we didn't do enough.

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