Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Remembering the Fallen

Peter Kahn, a high school teacher at Oak Park/River Forest, remembers Ishma Stewart, one of his former students as "incredibly bright, ambitious, with an electric smile". She was well on her way to "making it". When he heard she was shot four times in a parked car on Sunday night, he sobbed. Here's a quote from his beautifully written tribute.
Over the years, I’ve taught my share of tough kids. With them, I brace myself for bad news while hoping for the best. With Ishma, I only anticipated success. The circumstances of her death are so shocking and senseless that I know there’s nothing I could have said, nor done, to have prevented it.

We can’t go back in time and have Ishma avoid 48th Street and Indiana Avenue on the Sunday night she was murdered. Nor can we afford to let her killing be another headline that fades away. If we don’t figure out how to replenish hope in Chicago’s young people, another person will choose to shoot into a parked car.

As a teacher, I’ve learned that getting students to see a hopeful future to invest in is the best way to engage the toughest kids. We need to figure out how to do this broadly, or prison visits and funerals for young people will continue to be a part of the fabric of our lives.

1 comment:

Westy said...

Truly sad and insightful thoughts by Mr. Kahn.

One of my friends is actually Ms. Stewart's cousin and he emailed me after this happened so I was already familiar with the story.

As we endeavor to instill young people with "a hopeful future" it's a good reminder of why we're working for that.