Greetings from Los Angeles California "where the weather is warm and the people are cold." While Los Angeles is not notorious for being unkind and aloof, I found that this place rivals any place that I experienced on my mission. From lower Delaware to upper Allentown, all people were cold, but with a few questions about themselves they would warm up and eventually start talking about you. However, in Los Angeles I keep trying to talk to people and it is to no avail. All are entirely too busy to ever stop and talk with you. Of course, the initial interaction between the two of you those talking in Los Angeles may be a bit better than those proud citizens of Philadelphia, but for the most part it is pretty much the same.
Perhaps the reason why the people I talk to here are cold is because they are employed by the great and abominable church, more commonly known by the title LAUSD. To be candid, I have never seen a group of more miserable individuals than those that witness on a daily business at my work. Everyone looks and acts like death. It is uncanny and unsettling.
Although the misery varies from person to person, there are certain classifications or groups that individuals fall into. There is the disgruntled and apathetic educator, who tends not to give two winks about a student, yet miraculously complains about how he is underpaid and overworked. There are the kid haters. Yes, those easily angered individuals who hate children and as a result have paradoxically decided to join a profession that is completely dedicated to helping the individuals who they hate. There are the young bucks, the group with which I am a part of. We tend to be more optimistic regarding the future, probably because we have yet to experience what it entails, but we are so overworked and busy spending every waking moment preparing our next lesson ever to truly be joyful in the profession that we have chosen.
Then there is the old soldier. They are the individuals who have been through the ringer. They have fought the good fight and warred the good war. They may be good at their job. They may be bad at their job. One thing they all are, is aware of the year, the hour, and the minute that their retirement kicks in and when they may be able to abandon the losing battle of educational equality.
One would believe that the extraordinary teachers would be satisfied with their job; however, the truth of the matter is quite the contrary. They are tortured just like the rest of us. Maybe even more. Their torture is rooted in the kids who are unable to get it. Regardless of what they have done and how many children have succeeded because of them, they always tend to focus upon the ones that failed.
There is one teacher at my school, Ms. Hasarjan, who is incredible She is an inspiration to anyone who would see her classroom. I have never seen a math teacher try so hard and care so much. Regardless of this fact, she still focuses on what she has not done and has not succeeded in.
The only group that seems to be exempt from complaining and negativity are the Asian math teachers. I think this is more a cultural thing than anything else. That's why I admire Asians so much. They just show up, go to work, do their work and then go home. Seldom, if ever, do they lament. However, I have caught them complaining every so often.
I don't know the cause of the pessimism that pervades public education in Los Angeles. Perhaps it is due to the fact that the school district is just so poorly run. Maybe it is a reflection of the lives of the children that we teach. It could even be as simple as the fact that it is human nature to focus on what is not; rather than what is. Whatever the reason, I know that I am affected by it.
I am in the roughest of environments and in the midst of toughest thing I have ever had to do. I see pessimism and failure all around me. What keeps me going through all of this is the hope of the gospel. I know that it is true. I know that the church is what unites families. I know that it brings happiness to all those who live it. I've known this for five years now. I have known it since I sat at a small chapel on 143 Dickenson Ln. in a small suburb of Wilmington, Delaware. I saw a prophet of God address me from a far off land and bare testimony of his apostolic calling. It has been five years since this and every moment since that time I have known and I pray that I always will know that the gospel of Christ has been restored to the earth by a prophet of God. May the happiness of the gospel shine through me and I pray that others will see the joy that I have experienced from the truth.