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Almost ten years ago, I taught a Life Science class at Mission High School in San Francisco. The class was made up of students who didn’t want to take Biology and failed Life Science at least once before, some more than once. Many days, I would have students who came to class from the police department or came to class with knife wounds.

The school environment was not conducive to learning, but I determined that when these kids came into my class, they would be encouraged. I cleaned off all the graffiti in my classroom. I showed videos that taught them to have a good self-worth and to make good decisions.

After one year of this kind of effort, I was nicely surprised by the outcome. One student who promised to give to give me hell in the beginning of the year wrote me a thank you note for caring.

One teacher told me he stopped one of my students in the hall to ask if she had a pass. The student showed him the hall pass I gave her and replied, "I’m a good student. I’m not cutting class." And this was a girl, who, a year ago, was proud to be known as a bad student.

The students were changed despite the terrible school environment because of the one hour each day set apart in my class room. They received loving instruction that began to displace the lies and negative experiences in their lives.

Love and patient instruction have a way of setting people apart, even in a bad environment....

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