The death of a student: a teacher’s worst nightmare


While many of us were enjoying our Labor Day , Faares Yousef, 17, and his brother, 23,  were senselessly gunned down at the convenience store where they were working. Faares was my student and we were just beginning our second year together since I had taught him in his sophomore year. It was my privilege to have him in class. He was a very nice young man who was very respectful and very laid-back. After hearing the news I was shocked and the tears came quickly. The one thing I fear the most as a teacher was once again a reality.

I put off teaching high school for years because of the inherent reality that the risk of losing a student was much higher for high school age students. As a middle school teacher, I had experienced the death of a former student and that was hard. As I expressed in my earlier post, I Have 168 Kids and I Love All of Them, I really do love all my students. I tell them off and on that I love them and admonish them to “make good choices” and to “stay safe”. I worry about where they will end up in life and whether or not they are safe. After they are gone, I wonder what became of them if they haven’t stayed in touch. Last year, I reached out with my post High School Teacher: Where Are My Students? to my former students hoping to reconnect with some that I had lost track of and had some success even reaching a student I had who now lives in Brazil.

crying angels

Four years ago I started teaching high school English at my Alma Mater and it has been an awesome experience. But it didn’t take long for tragedy to strike. In 2014, one of my students, Hugo Arellano,18, was killed in a motorcycle accident. Hugo was an awesome young man who came from a great family and had a bright future ahead of him. I will never forget his brother coming around to meet his teachers and thanking us for teaching him. The abrupt end to a life just beginning was so jarring and unfair.

The death of kid at the hands of an adult for money is more than just jarring. It is grotesque. The beauty and innocence of youth cut short by the evil of adult greed. I am a positive guy who delights in the funny, and light side of life. I don’t like to be reminded of the grim reality that no matter how much we teach our youth and take measures to protect them, it is still possible that one mistake on the highway or one evil person can end the life of our youth.

photo credit: CRIME SCENE DO NOT CROSS / @CSI:cafe via photopin (license)
photo credit: Crying cherubs via photopin (license)

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