“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

"A kid got shot at the football game on Friday. Is he one of your students?" I was a teacher at Miami Northwestern High School, and my Teach For America summer training had not prepared me for the phone call I received from a friend one Sunday night in September. No one really ever trains you how to handle the loss of a child, and it was then that I realized whether it is your child, or someone else's, the loss reverberates just as loudly.

No administrator had called to tell me that one of my students would not be in attendance Monday morning. Yet, when I checked Sunday's paper, I saw that it was indeed my student James who had been killed. I had to reread the article four times before I believed it. James was one of my brightest students, not a "thug" or one to cause trouble, but someone who was "going places," as the kids would say. I realized it was not only my loss, it was also my students', and that next day we propped each other up as we mourned a loss only a teacher and her students could understand.

On the day my photo was taken, I participated in "Hoodies Up Day" to help bring awareness to Trayvon Martin, another 17-year-old black male from Miami who was recently shot and killed. I plan to make sure that no more wild and precious lives are lost in our inner-city schools, from senseless shootings or simply falling behind and dropping out, because whether it is your child, or someone else's, the loss will reverberate just as loudly.

— Maxene Tuchman