Sincere Howard – age 17 & Shirleen Caban – age 19
The Camden City School District will have two more empty desks when we return from spring break. These two young people were students of mine at my former Camden, New Jersey school. They were gunned down in a park on Easter Sunday morning. With permission, I am sharing the reflections from Lisa Wallenburg, the art teacher who is working on the #NoMoreEmptyDesks project with me. Lisa was their art teacher and I was their school nurse.
On Easter Sunday these two became the latest statistics in Camden. I’ve seen this too many times in my 3 plus decades in Camden. I know you may see this on the news, shake your heads and feel empathy but can then go back to your lives. I mean no ill will with that statement. It’s simply a statement of fact. My life is entwined with these kids. These were former students of mine. My strongest memory of Shirleen is a happy little, sweet thing with long dark hair who fairly sparkled with personality. Sincere was only at Cooper’s Poynt for a brief time, but I do remember him. He had a rough beginning and a mischievous glint in his eye, but what I remember most was his infectious smile. And even on his most troubled days, he still had smiles for me. It haunts me now. I’ve lost students before. It’s an unfortunate part of working where I do. I think it’s too easy to see these stories on the news, shake our heads in sympathy and then move on. Please take a moment to look at them and really see them. I’m grateful to have been even a small piece in their lives. All of my “kids” have pieces of my heart. I’d have it no other way, even when it hurts. ❤️💔 #nomoreemptydesks (thanks for taking the moment to read)