WBEZ | StoryCorps http://www.wbez.org/tags/storycorps Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Migrant farm worker sacrifices for son's college dream http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/migrant-farm-worker-sacrifices-sons-college-dream-111636 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/StoryCorps Debra and Roberto Olivera bh.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Roberto Olivera&rsquo;s entire family worked as migrant farm workers. His stepfather came from Jalisco, a largely agricultural area on the west coast of Mexico, and was not particularly educated. There was domestic abuse and alcohol in the home.</p><p>Roberto says his stepfather was a cruel man.</p><p>Roberto found refuge in school and at work. One day, his high school counselor called Roberto in and told him that he had a strong aptitude to succeed. He told him about a summer bridge program at the University of Santa Barbara, in preparation for going to college.</p><p>&quot;&#39;There&rsquo;s no way I can do that,&rsquo;&rdquo; Roberto remembers thinking. &ldquo;&lsquo;My stepfather will never let me leave home.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>Then, on one weekend, the director of the program&mdash;baldheaded, Jewish man&mdash;showed up unexpectedly on Roberto&rsquo;s doorstep and asked to speak to his stepfather.</p><p>The discussion did not go well. &ldquo;He&rsquo;s not going anywhere,&rdquo; his stepfather said. &ldquo;No way.&rdquo;</p><p>Shorty thereafter, the acceptance letter came.</p><p>&ldquo;So, now I had a choice,&rdquo; Roberto said. &ldquo;Was I going to go to school? Or was I going to stay and work in the fields?&rdquo;</p><p>One day, Roberto&rsquo;s mother was waiting for him in the dark of their kitchen. She was smoking a cigarette. It was after midnight.</p><p>Roberto had just come home from work at a restaurant, and as he lay down on his cot, his mother broke the silence.</p><p>&ldquo;I packed a suitcase,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s in the garage. Next Saturday, go. And don&rsquo;t look back. Whatever you do, do not look back.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I left her to that miserable man and all the people that were a part of it,&rdquo; Roberto said.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/6250422&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 12:35:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/migrant-farm-worker-sacrifices-sons-college-dream-111636 StoryCorps Chicago: 'I grew up as a clown' http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/storycorps-chicago-i-grew-clown-111560 <p><p>Michelle Roberts &ldquo;grew up as a clown.&rdquo;</p><p>When she was three years old, her mom started a small business called the &ldquo;Funny-Bone Ticklers.&rdquo; The business involved Roberts, her three brothers and her parents dressing up in clown costumes and performing skits for audiences.</p><p>They juggled. They danced. They made people laugh.</p><p>They performed at birthday parties, school assemblies, corporate picnics, daycares, and military bases. When Christmas came around they dressed up as elves, and in the summertime they dressed as peasants for the Renaissance Fair. When the circus came to town, they helped to warm up the audience.</p><p>&ldquo;My mom knew how to diversify,&rdquo; Roberts tells her friend Brad Dalrymple in this week&rsquo;s StoryCorps. &ldquo;She was actually a really great business owner.&rdquo;</p><p>Roberts&rsquo; mom created characters for each of the family members: Roberts&rsquo; dad became &ldquo;Silly Simon.&rdquo; Two of her brothers were &ldquo;Gabby&rdquo; (which was a joke, because he didn&rsquo;t talk) and &ldquo;Bee Bop.&rdquo; Another brother was &ldquo;Mr. Music Matt.&rdquo; He dressed as a professional photographer and ran sound for the group. Michelle&rsquo;s name was &ldquo;Cutie Pie,&rdquo; and she started as a mini-me to her mom&rsquo;s &ldquo;Petunia Pie.&rdquo;</p><p>Because their makeup and wigs were so extensive, it took about three hours of prep time before a show. The family was often running late to gigs and frequently got pulled over by the cops for speeding.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s two types of cops,&rdquo; Michelle Roberts says. &ldquo;There&rsquo;s one that would walk up and just see that this giant purple van full of clowns and just start laughing. And he would let us off. But the opposite reaction was a really stone-faced cop whose reaction was like, &lsquo;This isn&rsquo;t time to clown around, guys. Here&rsquo;s your ticket.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/StoryCorps-150213-Michelle-Roberts-3-bh.jpg" style="height: 318px; width: 620px;" title="" /></div><p>&ldquo;My mom really treated it like a business,&rdquo; Roberts says. &ldquo;When we weren&rsquo;t performing we were practicing and constantly coming up with new skits and writing new material.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;It actually got to the point where the school were threatening to hold us back, so I was homeschooled for most of my education.&rdquo;<br /><br />&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t tell people about it very often,&rdquo; Roberts says, &ldquo;because I think that everyone thinks that clowns are weird.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Like my boyfriend, we had been dating casually for a month or something and I said, there&rsquo;s something I have to tell you about my childhood. And I pulled out some pictures and he was flipping through them and he got a little overwhelmed. When he got to the elves, he was like, &lsquo;This is too much.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p></p> Fri, 13 Feb 2015 08:30:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/storycorps-chicago-i-grew-clown-111560 Friends honor disabled brother's legacy http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/friends-honor-disabled-brothers-legacy-111510 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/StoryCorps 150206 Scott Nance Adam Ballard.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Scott Nance and Adam Ballard are part of a network of disability activists who frequently shut down intersections and grind business to a halt in order to draw attention to the needs of the disabled.</p><p>Nance and Ballard had volunteered separately to scope out the site of the group&rsquo;s next protest when they met.</p><p>Nance hadn&rsquo;t planned to be on the same bus as Ballard that day. But when the two friends interviewed at Access Living earlier this month for StoryCorps, they agreed it was a fitting place for their friendship to begin. Since then, the two have been arrested together for protesting for the rights of people living with disabilities.</p><p>Ballard uses a wheelchair and though he has been disabled his entire life, only sought out a community of other disabled people as an adult. That came after he had an accident that put him in a nursing home for several months.</p><p>Nance, on the other hand, was born with an audio disability, as were his brother and sister. But Nance&rsquo;s brother Devin also had physical, developmental, growth, learning and speech disabilities. For many years, Scott Nance acted as his brother&rsquo;s personal attendant. But then Devin died suddenly and tragically. &quot;That put me in a really dark place,&quot; Nance says. &quot;And I didn&#39;t crawl out of that hole until we did this march in front of the White House.&quot;</p><p>Nance was passing out flyers with other disability activists in Washington, DC, when he had a realization. A woman asked him why he was there and &quot;in that moment I had to challenge myself and think. And I gave her an honest answer. I&#39;m here for my brother.&rdquo;</p><p>&quot;He died at the age of 26,&quot; Nance says, of his brother Devin. &quot;And that&#39;s ridiculous that we live in a society where that still happens. He was someone who loved life. Loved playing catch. Loved going out in the community. He died alone and he never should have been in a position to die alone like that.&quot;</p><p>&ldquo;I never met Devin,&rdquo; Ballard says. &ldquo;You entered my life after all that had gone down. But a couple years ago I think we were out drinking and it happened to be Devin&#39;s birthday so I offered a toast to your brother. And I said, &lsquo;Here&#39;s to your brother because if he&#39;s even halfway responsible for the man you are now then I&#39;m really sad that I didn&#39;t know him.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p></p> Fri, 06 Feb 2015 09:30:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/friends-honor-disabled-brothers-legacy-111510 Chemotherapy strengthens child's positive outlook http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/chemotherapy-strengthens-childs-positive-outlook-111481 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/150130 StoryCorps Ann Adams Katie Bostick.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Several years ago Ann Adams and her husband found themselves in the middle of every parent&rsquo;s nightmare: Their young daughter Katie was born with a disease that causes brain tumors and had the potential to blind her in one eye, if left untreated.</p><p>Adams and her husband had to make a decision &ndash; Katie could undergo more than a year of chemotherapy or run the risk of going blind in one eye.</p><p>They chose to go with chemotherapy and she endured fourteen months of treatment.</p><p>Adams recently joined Katie, 12, in the StoryCorps Booth at Chicago&rsquo;s Cultural Center.</p><p>&ldquo;If I had had chemotherapy as a 16-year-old that&rsquo;d be different, because I&rsquo;m older, I&rsquo;m more mature,&rdquo; Katie says, &ldquo;but as a pre-schooler, it&rsquo;s just kind of unimaginable.&rdquo;</p><p>Katie today is cheerful and happy. She survived the traumatizing experience but retained a positive outlook.</p><p>&ldquo;When I smile, other people smile, and it just makes me happy,&rdquo; Katie says.</p><p>When she was younger and she noticed her mom looking stressed, she told her, &ldquo;I&rsquo;m not going to die.&rdquo;</p><p>Adams says that&rsquo;s like Katie, who is always looking out for other people. The hospital staff fought to care for Katie as a patient.</p><p>Adams and her daughter&rsquo;s memories focus on different details: Katie remembers putting anesthesia masks on her teddy bear and pretending she was the doctor.</p><p>Adams remembers changing Katie&rsquo;s bandages each week and distracting her with books-on-CD.</p><p>Recently, Adams offered her daughter a surgery to get rid of a scar on her thumb. But Katie wanted to keep it as a reminder.</p><p>She says she wants to remember what really happened so that when she&rsquo;s an adult, she won&rsquo;t be making any details up</p><p>&ldquo;A reminder so that if I do have children I don&rsquo;t want them to go through what I went through as a kid,&rdquo; Katie says.</p></p> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 14:32:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/chemotherapy-strengthens-childs-positive-outlook-111481 'I was not marching in the street, but I was marching in the business.' http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/i-was-not-marching-street-i-was-marching-business-111447 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/StoryCorps 150123 Ron and Dave Sampson bh.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Ron Sampson&rsquo;s story reads like a real-life episode of &ldquo;Mad Men.&rdquo;</p><p>In the 1950s and 1960s Sampson worked at advertising agencies that marketed all sorts of products, from fast food to cars. But Sampson is black and the agencies where he worked early in his career were almost all-white.</p><p>&ldquo;My mindset was to be professional but not give up my blackness,&rdquo; Sampson says in this week&rsquo;s StoryCorps. &ldquo;I was not marching in the street, but I was marching in the business.&rdquo;</p><p>In December, Ron Sampson, 81, sat down with his son, Dave, 52, to talk about his career, and how the advertising industry has changed with respect to African-Americans.</p><p>Ron started his career at the same time the Civil Rights Movement was beginning, and he felt that many white executives were interested in understanding it better. &ldquo;Even if they wouldn&rsquo;t make a sale with me, they wanted to hear it. So I became a conduit for them to learn what black folks were about.&rdquo;</p><p>Ron&rsquo;s son, Dave, explains that back then, in marketing to African-Americans, many companies simply replaced white faces in advertisements with black ones. &ldquo;Particularly in print,&rdquo; Dave says, &ldquo;it was not written in a way that reflected who we were. The language was wrong, the situations were wrong. There was not much of a connection.&rdquo;</p><p>Ron says that when he started working at one agency in Chicago, the only other black person at the company was the shoeshine man. Yet Ron felt compelled to be in the agency world,&nbsp; &ldquo;to point out these things that people had no sensitivity to,&rdquo; Dave says.</p><p>In 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed. Ron remembers the day vividly.<br />&ldquo;The city went up in flames on the West Side,&rdquo; Ron says, &ldquo;and people ran like scared chickens out of the downtown area here in Chicago. I looked around and the whole agency was empty.&rdquo; Ron was disappointed that none of his colleagues had anything to say about how their clients should respond in the wake of the incident. He wrote a memo to the head of the agency and expressed his dismay. A week later, executives started coming in to see him. One-by-one they expressed their disappointment at the behavior of the company and talked about how they would begin to see things differently.</p><p>&ldquo;Everybody who is advertising a product is in it to make money,&rdquo; Dave says. Over time, with the help of pioneers like Ron Sampson, companies learned that African-Americans &ldquo;aspire to many of the same things as white people but the language and culture to get there are different.&rdquo;</p></p> Fri, 23 Jan 2015 10:46:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/i-was-not-marching-street-i-was-marching-business-111447 Transgender teenager named Prom Queen http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/transgender-teenager-named-prom-queen-111411 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/StoryCorps 150116 Reyna Ortiz A bh.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>When he was 12, Ray Ortiz packed a blue duffel bag and prepared to leave home forever.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s just no way in hell that I&rsquo;m going to live a life that I&rsquo;m not happy with,&rdquo; Ortiz remembers thinking.</p><p>&ldquo;At the time I didn&rsquo;t know what transgender was,&rdquo; Ortiz says in this week&rsquo;s StoryCorps. Kids at school called him &ldquo;Gay Ray,&rdquo; so he assumed that he was gay.</p><p>He wrote his mom a letter saying &ldquo;not only was I gay, but that I wanted to be a girl.&rdquo;<br />She was supportive and gradually Ray transitioned to living life as a female, going by the name Reyna and using female pronouns. &ldquo;I just made a mental decision like: I&rsquo;m going to do what I want. And I don&rsquo;t care what anybody else has to say.&rdquo;</p><p>Ortiz has three brothers, one older and two younger. And they provided a lot of support when it came time for her to attend Morton East High School in Cicero.</p><p>Other students were &ldquo;horrendous,&rdquo; Reyna said. She told her older brother and she says he went to her high school, into her classroom and confronted her bully. She says kids never bothered her again.</p><p>Ortiz became friends with the most beautiful girls in school. &ldquo;And they were willing to fight and slap somebody if they disrespected me,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;But eventually people just got used to me. By my junior year, I can honestly say, I ruled that school.&rdquo;</p><p>Emmanuel&nbsp;Garcia was a sophomore at Morton East when Ortiz was a senior. Garcia was struggling to come to terms with his identity as a gay Latino man. &ldquo;Seeing someone who was so open and out with their gender identity, it was intimidating,&rdquo; Garcia said in an interview recently. &ldquo;She carried herself so fearlessly.&rdquo;</p><p>During Reyna&rsquo;s senior year, she was nominated for Prom Queen. She went without a date, and sat by herself when the court was announced.</p><p>Then, they announced the winner: &ldquo;&rsquo;And the winner of Prom Queen of 1998 - Ray Ortiz.&rsquo; And I just remember everybody coming to the stage. When I turned around it was just flashing lights and paparazzi. Pictures everywhere and people applauding.&ldquo;</p><p>&ldquo;We always hear that the Latino community is full of machismo and we never hear about a community embracing their own,&rdquo; Garcia said. &ldquo;To have this person kind of pioneer sexuality and gender identity in 1998 was unheard of.&rdquo;</p></p> Fri, 16 Jan 2015 08:07:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/transgender-teenager-named-prom-queen-111411 Evanston man hit by truck, finds himself at fault http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/evanston-man-hit-truck-finds-himself-fault-111371 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/StoryCorps 150109 Andrew Emily bh.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>About four years ago, Andrew Kerr was crossing the street in Evanston when a city utility truck drove down the block. He didn&#39;t see it and was hit by the truck and thrown about twenty feet in the air.</p><p>Kerr recently came to the StoryCorps Booth with his friend and neighbor Emily Grayson to talk about the incident, and the lasting impact it&rsquo;s had on his life.</p><p>&ldquo;Do you remember the moment it happened?&rdquo; Grayon asks him. &ldquo;I kinda remember only the moment it happened,&rdquo; Kerr says. &ldquo;Just the sheer terror of realizing I was going to get hit by a moving truck in the face. And there was no getting out of the way. And the next thing I remember was waking up in the hospital.&rdquo;</p><p>There, Kerr learned the severity of the accident - he had some brain injuries, his skull and arm were fractured and he had bruised some ribs. The hospital staff was supportive throughout his rehabilitation and pushed him when he needed to be pushed.</p><p>&ldquo;There was this CNA who worked there,&rdquo; Kerr says. &ldquo;And he was the one who was like &lsquo;You&rsquo;ve been here this many days? You need to stand up today.&rsquo; And I was terrified. I remember just sobbing in fear about trying to walk. And him holding me, this stranger in a hospital, doesn&rsquo;t know me, a nursing assistant helping me take my first steps after having brain injury, lying in this bed for a week or whatever it was, and pushing me like someone who cared.&rdquo;</p><p>Kerr&rsquo;s wife was also at his side. He had known her since he was a teenager.</p><p>The accident caused several permanent injuries in Kerr, including significant hearing loss, and the loss of his sense of smell.</p><p>Kerr owns a small construction company in Evanston and when the accident happened his wife called his clients and kept the business going. Through all of it, Kerr&rsquo;s wife was at his side, taking care of their small children too.</p><p>&ldquo;I best describe it as watching my own episode of &lsquo;It&rsquo;s a Wonderful Life,&rsquo;&rdquo; Kerr says. &ldquo;Being alive to see how loved I am: My customers lining up to help, which to me said I mean something in your life. My mechanic came and visited me in the hospital. The guy from Home Depot brought me fresh fruit, just because he was concerned. I&rsquo;m amazed at how many people came together.&rdquo;</p></p> Fri, 09 Jan 2015 09:43:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/evanston-man-hit-truck-finds-himself-fault-111371 Improviser finds purpose in Chicago police mental health crisis trainings http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/improviser-finds-purpose-chicago-police-mental-health-crisis-trainings-111274 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/StoryCorps 141219 Clark Weber.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>In 2004, the Chicago Police Department implemented a voluntary training program to deal with mental health emergencies.</p><p>Today, Chicago has the <a href="http://www.namichicago.org/documents/cit_advocacy_sheet.pdf" target="_blank">largest crisis intervention training program in the world</a>, according to Alexa James, Executive Director of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness)-Chicago.</p><p>Clark Weber is an essential part of the crisis intervention training. In this week&rsquo;s StoryCorps, Weber describes how he found himself in the greatest role of his life.</p><p>After moving to Chicago in the late 1980s, Weber studied improv at Second City. He loves acting, whether it&rsquo;s theater, television or film. But Weber struggled with depression and suicidal tendencies too. He was diagnosed as bipolar and spent four-and-a-half weeks at a state mental hospital before moving into a group home with Thresholds, a non-profit that assists people with mental illness.</p><p>&ldquo;When I came to Thresholds,&rdquo; Weber said, &ldquo;they had a theater arts program &ndash; which now unfortunately is defunct - and I was told that we have this opportunity to role play with Chicago police to make them aware and see what a real mental health crisis is like.&rdquo;</p><p>Weber soon found himself in the middle of the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training program, roleplaying as a person in distress.</p><p>The role-playing can be intense, Weber said. &ldquo;Officers have play weapons and a real Taser, which is non-functioning. And instead of using force, they try to talk us down. And we have total freedom to insult the police officers. We have total freedom to swear at them, to make it as real as possible.&rdquo;</p><p>If officers feel &ldquo;that the Taser needs to be used, they&rsquo;ll just point it towards us and say, &lsquo;Taser. Taser. Taser.&rsquo; So we&rsquo;re fake-Tased and then we discuss why the officer feels he or she had to do that.&rdquo;</p><p>Pastor Fred Kinsey is a member of ONE Northside, a group that this past year helped get police to increase the number of officers able to go through CIT training. &ldquo;If you have tools to recognize people in crisis, to know what kinds of medications people are on, that helps,&rdquo; Kinsey said. Chicago Police recently doubled the number of officers who are able to receive CIT training each year, Kinsey said. But that doubling of officers - from 200 to 400 officers each year &ndash; is small compared to the number of officers who don&rsquo;t take the training. &ldquo;I&rsquo;d like to see the majority, if not all, officers trained,&rdquo; Kinsey said. The biggest impediment to expanding the training program, he said, is not so much financial, but the time costs of taking officers off the street.</p><p>For Clark Weber, the experience has been transformative. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m not saying every day&rsquo;s gonna be a good day, or every day&rsquo;s gonna be a great day. Being bipolar I do have my ups and downs. But I run into officers that I&rsquo;ve helped train or they&rsquo;ve been in a class and they&rsquo;ve watched the videos. And I&rsquo;ve had officers come up to me and said, &lsquo;Because of you I helped save this person&rsquo;s life. Or I helped this person get the treatment that they needed.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s very empowering,&rdquo; Weber says. &ldquo;For the first time in my life, I feel I have a purpose. I have a place in the world.&rdquo;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/6250422&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="888px"></iframe></p></p> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 13:34:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/improviser-finds-purpose-chicago-police-mental-health-crisis-trainings-111274 StoryCorps: Bilingual pre-school teacher describes the state of education in Chicago http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/storycorps-bilingual-pre-school-teacher-describes-state-education-chicago-111267 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/kksc.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>Iveth Romano teaches pre-school in Chicago and many of her students are bilingual. She came by the StoryCorps booth recently to speak with producer Katie Klocksin about the importance of supporting kids who are learning two languages.</p><p>&ldquo;Most of the parents don&rsquo;t speak English,&rdquo; Romano said. &ldquo;But most of our teachers who have a Bachelors&rsquo;, they are American, so they just speak English.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I remember once a girl she just peed her pants and started crying,&rdquo; she continued. &ldquo;I was in another classroom but I heard the girl say that she wanted to use the bathroom, in Spanish. But [none] of the teachers understood what she said. They (didn&rsquo;t) pay attention to her and she just peed on her pants and started crying and they gave her a timeout.&rdquo;</p><p>Romano says she has a lot of examples like that. She says she sees situations like that once per week or twice a week.</p><p>Romano pushes all her students to learn English and Spanish. In her classroom, they say their ABCs in both languages.</p><p>Sometimes, though, parents are oblivious to what&rsquo;s going on - good or bad - in the classroom.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s not because people are bad. Or they don&rsquo;t know how to say &lsquo;thank you.&rsquo; I think it&rsquo;s more that they&rsquo;re tired. Sometimes you don&rsquo;t really know what kind of job they have. Sometimes they have two different jobs in one day. So that [does] not make me feel bad that they don&rsquo;t say &lsquo;thank you.&rsquo; They don&rsquo;t say nothing. They just take the kid and leave. I understand. Sometimes they look really tired.&rdquo;</p><p>Teaching can be stressful, Klocksin said, but &ldquo;there&rsquo;s obviously a lot of rewards to it too. Why did you go into this?&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Cause my son is four years old,&rdquo; Romano said, &ldquo;And he used to attend a Head Start but I just moved him to a Catholic school because here in Chicago. The education in the public schools is really difficult in this moment.&rdquo;</p><p>Romano says two of the neighborhood public schools closed, so classrooms that used to have twenty kids are now thirty-five or forty kids.</p><p>Romano says her son is doing better now.</p><p>&ldquo;His behavior&rsquo;s completely different,&rdquo; Romano said. &ldquo;He looks more happy. He looks more confident.&rdquo;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/6250422&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="888px"></iframe></p></p> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 15:19:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/storycorps-bilingual-pre-school-teacher-describes-state-education-chicago-111267 StoryCorps: Adoptive mom encourages teenage boy http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/storycorps-adoptive-mom-encourages-teenage-boy-111112 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/scorpsadopt.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>&ldquo;My mom was the only one there, but she was a good mom,&rdquo; Matt Fitzsimmons says in this week&rsquo;s StoryCorps. &ldquo;She loved us very much. But she didn&rsquo;t have much to work with, because she was a single mom. And she passed on from cancer when I was 14. My dad came back like two months before my mom passed, and he was going to take care of us. But my dad had enough troubles of his own, with alcohol. So my sister and I had to deal with a single alcoholic parent in the house and basically he was perpetually mad at us for no good reason.&rdquo;</p><p>Fitzsimmons came to StoryCorps with Shirley Paulson, a woman who&rsquo;d known him since before he was born. She had just moved back to Chicago around the time of Fitzsimmons&rsquo; mother&rsquo;s funeral.</p><p>&ldquo;I found you then after your younger sister had gone off to school and you were living alone then with your dad&hellip;That was bad. If I remember correctly you were living with your dad in the house with a dog and a couple cats and it seemed like they had more care than you did.&rdquo;</p><p>Paulson explains how Fitzsimmons worked one summer at a camp alongside their son, Tim.</p><p>&ldquo;When we went to the airport to pick up Tim from camp, Tim said, &lsquo;Matt needs a ride home. Can we bring him home?&rsquo; Sure. So we just jumped you in the car and when we dropped you off at your house, I was stunned to realize that here you&rsquo;d been away all summer, you got your luggage out of the car, went up to the house, and there was nobody there to even say hello.&quot;</p><p>&ldquo;Oh he was there,&rdquo; Fitzsimmons says. &ldquo;He was just asleep on the couch, with the five cars in the driveway and the lawn really long.&quot;</p><p>&ldquo;Exactly,&rdquo; Paulson says. &ldquo;Well, the next day was Labor Day and I thought: Why don&rsquo;t we invite Matt over? We thought maybe you&rsquo;d like to come and join us. So I was a little bit nervous calling you &lsquo;cause I didn&rsquo;t know you that well. So we invited you and you said so quickly: &lsquo;Yes! Sure!&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;And I noticed that you ate and ate and ate and ate. You were hungry. And so I said to my husband afterwards: &lsquo;Do you think Matt would like to come over for some more food tomorrow?&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Then it became obvious that you were joining us more than the typical teenager coming over to have food with a family.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I think I talked your head off,&rdquo; Fitzsimmons says. &ldquo;We talked a lot.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Yeah, we did talk a lot,&rdquo; Paulson says, &ldquo;and I loved that. I felt honored that you would &ndash; as a teenager - take the time to talk to me. And share your life, and it meant so much to me. It really did. But I don&rsquo;t think you realized for a while what it meant to be in the family. It took you a while to register. And it was hard to do because you had to deal with the fact that you had a family. And yet you also were being part of us. And you had loyalty to your family, which was right to do.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;It was frustrating to me to have to drive you home every day across Glenview and drop you off into that nothing of a house. And then come back and pick you up the next day and bring you home and have some nice time with you and drive you back home again. And I thought: &lsquo;Why won&rsquo;t he just move in?&rsquo; But there was some stuff you had to deal with.&rdquo;</p><p>Fitzsimmons says, &ldquo;So, you were the nice person helping me. Then you converted into parental person, which is a huge shift, because you went from nice to &lsquo;You have to do this to get to the next stage of your life.&rsquo;&hellip;When I think about all those twists and turns throughout life. And if I didn&rsquo;t do this turn or that turn where would I be&hellip;That was probably the biggest turn for you to say, &lsquo;We&rsquo;re going to save him from devastation.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Of course we didn&rsquo;t think of saving you. We thought of we needed you. You&rsquo;ll get that through your head one of these days.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ll say it officially: I love you.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Oh, Matt! Can I say &lsquo;I love you&rsquo; too?&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;You do all the time!&rdquo;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/6250422&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="888px"></iframe></p></p> Mon, 17 Nov 2014 17:42:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/storycorps-adoptive-mom-encourages-teenage-boy-111112