Monday, January 22, 2007


this was started almost 3 months ago, i don't know why i didn't finish it off and post it then. -e.

Two weeks ago April couldn't get started on her class assignment. This isn't unusual for April. She's not a particularly good student, though she usually tries hard. Her occasional cooperativeness more than makes up for what she lacks in intellectual ability, and I think that's how she'll be successful in life. Combine that with a bright smile, big blue eyes, and a desire to please, she's got a lot going for her that others don't.

Usually when she's struggling with an assignment she'll either demand help or goof off and talk to one of the boys. This day was different. Instead of any of her normal tricks, she went off in the corner and put her head down. I tried to talk to her and get her to work, knowing it would be a struggle, but hoping that I could at least get her to accomlish a little bit.

I gotta hand it to her, she tried to get started. I don't now whether that's a testament to her desire to succeed, my ability to persuade, or what, but she tried. But then she started breaking down. A few tears sneaked out before she could stop them, and she started making vague references to having done something bad and it forcing her to drop out of school so she could go live somewhere else.

It's best not to ask for details. A student offering information to a teacher is one thing, but a teacher looking for it is another. Unless I actually see evidence of something that endagers a child, I probably shouldn't ask. I do know she lives in a group home for foster kids, and she intimated that she'd done something that would get her kicked out.

And she was panicking.

Like most kids, she thinks that she's alone and that there's nothing anyone can--or will--do to help. I don't know the system well, but I know there are a ton of resources available to her, and there are people who spend all day finding ways to help kids. In fact, one of the things I like about working in an urban district like this is that there are so many different services and resources available, and the needs are so high that there are people who know how to take advantage of them.

After 5 or 10 minutes of persistence I was able to convince her to talk to her counselor, calling ahead to let them know that a girl in crisis was about to walk in and to ask that someone talk to her right away. I checked in with her counselor after school and found out that she spend quite a while in there that day. The counselor didn't ask for specifics either, but told me that there are only about 5 things that can get a kid kicked out of a group home and she was pretty sure that drugs were the problem this time.

Fast forward a couple of weeks: April is going to a rehab center, probably for a month, and her counselor, principal, and teachers are meeting to convince her that a month out of school isn't the end of the world and that she's not throwing her junior year away if she goes to rehab. And we have figure out how to get work to her so she can get credit.

Fast forward 4 days: At the end of the day April walks in with her bright smile, seemingly ecstatic to be back in school. I said that I thought she was supposed to be gone for a month, and she replied "Mr. G, you don't understand. The people there are crazy! I couldn't stand being there." She was all smiles, like usual, but I had a feeling that this kid just took a wrong turn.

She didn't come to school much in the next couple of weeks, and then disappeared altogether.

Fast forward another couple of weeks: I caught her in the hall at the end of the day and asked where she'd been. All smiles again, she said she was just stopping by to drop out because she was pregnant. I tried to tell her that there were a lot of ways we could help her if she stayed in school, but I knew it was a lost cause at this point.

The kid's gonna have to find her own path, no matter how difficult it is. I'm sure I'll never see her again, but I sure hope she makes it alright.

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