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June 5, 2015 / sharoncopy

DAY 133

He’s about to graduate from 8th grade. He’s been suspended more times than anyone can count during the past two years. His mother is certifiably crazy and his father has had several strokes. Sometimes he has to help his father get dressed. Sometimes his mother wakes him in the middle of the night because she just made dinner.

But all I saw was a kid who kept disrupting the class when they were all supposed to be taking some online math test. He wasn’t awful – just talkative. He wasn’t even as loud as some loudmouths have been. I got on his case several times because I wanted the other kids to have a quiet room in which to be able to think through their math problems. After he finished, I encouraged him to go outside. He was in, out, in, out, chatting. He didn’t see the problem. He didn’t consider his wisecracks to be an interruption to their test-taking, and perhaps they didn’t either. Finally I called him over and tried to explain and he said, “I don’t want to listen to you.” I gave him a choice of going to the office or going back outside. He started to leave and then reconsidered and went outside until after everyone finished their tests. There were other guys out there to throw a football with. He was upset with me. The parapro told me more about him when she stopped by to look for some paperwork. Would I have treated him differently? Probably, but I also would have told him to take his test out in the hall or somewhere so as not to distract the rest of the class. It’s always a fine line between considering a kid’s situation and considering the rest of the class too. I could have been kinder.

A girl in the first class was ready to explode – the parapro told me to just leave her be – don’t make her take her test. She wanted to go to see the counselor and I offered to walk her down so the parapro could get everyone else set up since she knew the drill. I didn’t say anything to the girl on the way – she doesn’t know me. When I left her there, I said, “I wish you well” and smiled a little and she said “Thanks.”  A little while later I decided to go to my car and get a can of cold Pepsi and I took it to her and just said, “This is for you” and touched her shoulder gently when I gave it to her. It just seemed like maybe a small act of kindness might help get her through her day. Her dad left the family and she’s been angry for months and months. Kind of hard to care about the area of a triangle, I think.

This was the “Success Strategies” class in a Livonia middle school, which helps 7th and 8th graders with their homework, schedules, and coping with school life. These are not the kids who have been diagnosed with ADHD or whatever – those go to the Resource Room (where I helped out last week) for extra help. These are the in-betweeners – not actually on a “Plan” but not able to manage and needing a boost. I applaud Mrs. A, and Mrs. R, the parapros who very obviously love and are loved by these kids. These teachers and counselors do amazing work helping the kids in every way that they can. Not spiritually, in the sense of being able to tell them about Christ and what He could do to change their lives. But within their context – I applaud their dedication and concern and just plain hard work.

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