NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A local W. A. Bass Alternative Learning teacher said he chose to teach at a school known for educating the district's most troubled youth because it made him want to take more responsibility.
Bobby Bracks taught history at the Metro Nashville Public high school for five years before taking a semester off. He's currently studying clinical psychology.
While there, he said he noticed his students in need of more attention other than what any school book can offer. Many of them encounter emotional distress outside of the school.
"It was the most important place that I saw myself being useful. Many people see it as being an unwanted place to be, it's the exact opposite. Being at an alternative school with having so many kids having a similar set of issues we have an extra layer that we go through with our youth and that extra layer is 'what's going on in your day?' because now we can focus on it," Bracks said.
Bracks said educators are one piece to the jig-saw puzzle to help his students turn their lives around.
"We don't see criminals, we have no criminals in our school. They can be defined as criminals on paper or by someone's definition but when you really look at what these children's issues are, they're children. When they come to us they're students," he said.
He said other officials and grassroots organzations need to work together.
"Juvenile justice system, many of the political individuals, many of the council people. They're all involved and they're doing a good job but we all have to work together on this and I think sometimes when one piece is going that way we tend to start to pick at a couple of individuals instead of staying focus at what the real agenda is," he said.
During one class, the Nashville native showed his students pictures of former classmates who have committed serious crimes.
"That was an exercise of showing the students that care about their future on what's happening to their other students. So they're worried about their future and they say 'hey I know this student, I know that student, these are kids that come from where I come from, I'm 15, I'm 16 years old what do I do.'" he said.
He said students at these school need love. Sometimes, seeing his students on television for local crime stories makes him to try even harder to make a difference in their lives.
"It makes me want to take more responsibility. Most times you would think 'oh I'm heartbroken, oh this is bad,' it means that I need to work harder as an educator. When you really understand your purpose and what you can bring to the table, you'll never want to go anywhere else, he said.
Many students at Bass have lengthy criminal records and most have been kicked out of conventional high schools because of behavioral problems. On March 1, Metro Police removed three school resource officers from Bass and Johnson Alternative Learning Center because of a working in a reported "toxic environment.
There are approximately 82 students enrolled at Bass ALC.