Not long ago, I trudged down the hallway of my neighborhood school for an early-morning tutoring session. the drizzle wasn’t helping my disposition, and arriving at school well before the sun wasn’t helping much, either.

I visit the school each week with a bunch of parents. In my mind, we’re there to help even the odds for children who don’t seem to have a lot going for them. You know the ones I’m talking about: The ones who drag standardized test scores so low that other neighborhood parents become frightened about our public schools.

Anyway, as I continue my shuffle, I fell into step with a third-grader who proudly waved some homework I had assigned the week before but hadn’t expected to see again.

“Look at this,” she said excitedly, shuffling through the pages as we turned the corner toward the stairway. “I did every one of these problems.”

“Did it take you awhile?” I asked.

“It sure did,” she said. “But my dad helped me a lot.”

There was an awkward silence at this point.

“Where do you live?” I asked, to say something.

“Not too far from here, in some apartments,” she said.

“I’ll bet it’s fun to live there,” I continued, assuming it probably wasn’t.

“It’s OK,” she said, not too convincingly. “But we’re moving soon. I won’t be coming to this school anymore.”

At this point, a big smile creased her uplifted face.

“My dad is moving to Farmersville, and I’m going to live with him there,” she said, pigtails now bouncing off her purple backpack as she skipped down the hall.

“I’ve never been to Farmersville,” I said. “What’s it like?”

“It’s so nice,” she said. “There are trees and horses and cows and, I can have a dog, too. The schools are really good too. My dad says I’ll learn a lot more there.

“There isn’t hardly any crime, either. We won’t have to lock our doors at night. And I can walk to visit my friends all by myself. I think I’ll like it better there.”

With that, we arrived at the tutoring session, and she bounded over to her table, leaving me alone to ponder the merits of a place like Farmersville that can mean so much to someone who seems to have so little.


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