MaryAnn was a "born teacher" as an assistant principal described her, and a wonderful woman I loved for 38+ years. You would have loved her too.
My late wife, MaryAnn, taught 25 years in the heart of Chicago’s ghetto, the near West side. She was the best teacher, and disciplinarian in the school, and the results showed it. She had a deal with the principal so she rotated thru the 3 classes and didn’t always get the dregs of second grade. One spring, the principal asked her to take this one specific kid who had been suspended 13 times in first grade, once for throwing a chair at his teacher. He also had a rap sheet with the police as long as your arm. He was making his living carrying the drugs from the dealer to the customer, and bringing the money back!
Remember, he was a 1st grader at that time! Mrs. J spent the whole summer worrying about what she was going to do to keep this kid in line. The first day of school arrived, and as usual she greeted each kid when they came in, asked their name and directed them to find their name label on a desk, and take their seat (a quick way to see if they can READ their name). Von said, "Hi," and found his desk right away. Needless to say it was in the front row. The year progressed and Von was a model student, smart, and did his work without any prodding. Finally, the last day of school arrived and Von's 1st Grade teacher, and Mrs. J's good friend pulled her aside at lunch and said, “I want you to keep Von after school and find out why he was such a hellion last year, and why he has been so good this year for you”. So that is what Mrs. J did. After all the students had left she said, “Ok Von, why were you so bad last year and you have been a model student this year?" He said, “You know, Mrs. J.” She replied, "NO, I don’t know Von, that’s why I am asking you”. He responded, “You know Mrs. J.” She explained, “No, I don’t know Von, how about you tell me.” He answered, “Everybody knows dem Black teachers don’t know nuttin." She scorned, “Ok Von, thank you and try to have a safe summer”. He was no sooner out the door, than the 1st Grade teacher was in, and she said, “Ok, what was it?” Mrs. J replied, “I don’t want to tell you”. “I think I know," came the reply, "It’s because I’m Black isn’t it?" “Yes,” said Mrs. J., "You nailed it." There were several Black teachers who’s only qualification was the color of their skin, and that reputation spread to all of the Black teachers, regardless of their ability to teach. Mrs. J’s friend wasn’t one of the bad ones. She was the second best teacher to Mrs. J. I’ve probably told this story 50 times, and recently I had a light go on in my head about it. I was telling it to a liberal who had lived with Black people for a long time, and her comment was, “It was too bad that Von didn’t like his race." I countered with, “His view of his race is fine, he just realizes that there are good and bad within it, and he had actually learned to “game the system” that was stacked against him by the liberals of this world. Not bad for a 1st grader!" The Unions only care about getting paid, they don’t give a damn about what they produce. We see it in EVERY inner city where they hold power. They have done more harm to the Black Americans, than Jim Crow ever did. My wife NEVER joined the Chicago Teachers Union, and somehow they never discovered it. She taught there 28 years and never paid union dues. I suspect her friendship with the Union Rep might have had something to do with it.
MaryAnn would have loved the idea you have of using "her place" to help young people. Her spirit will smile down on your efforts, and God will bless you for your efforts. Thank You!