The story that came out of Montgomery today chilled me to the very core of who I am. When I taught there in 1999-2000, I spent more time with Troy than I did with almost anyone else. He hung out in my classroom after school, I hung out at the bar he worked at. He was a hero at our teacher post-prom party when he brought us pizzas from the bar at about 2am.
I'm divided. Part of me is shocked, in absolute disbelief that this could have happened, that Troy could do this. The other part of me knows that it isn't much of a surprise at all. Strange, crazy things happen in that town. The year I spent there changed me forever as a person, nearly drove me from a teaching career, and no one who didn't work there that year can ever understand. People nod in commeseration when I tell them all of the things that happened: the deaths, getting written up for talking too loudly in the hallway after school, being threatened with suspension without pay because a girl skipped my study hall, parents threatening to sue me because I didn't follow a 504 plan I was never told about and the principal (who is no longer there) telling me I was on my own.
Montgomery, to me, is a sad place. I loved most of my kids. The group of girls that I got to know, my darling 8th graders (stephanie, roz, wendy, angela) got me through that year. To know now that Troy was their coach and that it is likely the girl that came forward is not the first one, sickens me. The town is a force, and it victimizes people. Good kids go bad there. Good teachers go bad there. It's no one's fault, it just is.
The Troy that I knew did not do this...something changed in him. I have called Montgomery many things: the center of Hell, the seventh circle. But nothing prepared me for this, and I can't imagine how much healing it will take for the kids affected by this to move on. I am so thankful that I got out when I did.