I teach high school science at a charter school. The school will begins its 4th year of operation in a couple of weeks and I'm excited. When the school opened, we started with a freshman class. This year, these students will be complete their high school careers.

Now, mind you, four years ago, when I first met the majority of them, I was convinced I could, in some way, help mold them into young ladies and men that would become great assets to their community and to the world. They did, naturally, cause me to wonder if I'd lost my mind, but here, as we near the end of our journey together, I have regained confidence in them all. And more importantly, they've gain confidence in themselves.

What you must understand is this: these children come from what society calls, low socioeconomic circumstances. They have had everything possible keep them from becoming productive. They will NOT amount to anything. I never believed that. I came from the same community...albeit, not from a low socioeconomic circumstance, and I'd been out here in the world a moment or two and knew what they were up against. I knew they could do it.

Four years ago, children came into my biology classroom, angry because their parents had placed them in this "weird school" with "weird teachers" and the "principal from hell"... They only wanted to battle each other for supremacy in the social order and find something to eat. (Dang, teenagers love to eat, don't they?)

As time has passed, we've taught them the core academic requirements and something more. We've exposed them to the world around them. We've taken them places, showed them concepts, explored ideas with them, questioned their notions of right and wrong...and given them a reason to think.

They read the newspaper every morning. They write papers and perform acts for shakespearean plays. The debate current event topics and apply mathematical concepts to scientific principles.

Most importantly, they now have dreams and goals. One wants to be pathologist, another a lawyer, yet another is now inspired to teach. The class math whiz wan't to work for NASA one day after spending the day with my sister, who worked for NASA for years. One has already been accepted to the Art Institute of Chicago and has expressed his joy in drawing pictures that will be used in a mural. I've taken them on trips to college fairs, they've been on college tours...we've had professionals come in to talk to them.

In 9 months, my "babies" will become so much more than they ever thought they could be. This year will be unlike any other. I can't wait. This time its different, for real.