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Thursday, June 7, 2007

Night and day...

So, I teach kids with emotional and behavioral disturbances. The truth is, under most of the hard crusts, most of them are at least good people. Sometimes you just have to carve much deeper to find that good person, but then it's often worth it.

My other side, with respect to being a part of the high school community is that I have been an assistant track coach (I believe I blogged about it before). I am coaching high school kids who are in a sport that loves individual accomplishment and thrives on encouraging each other. Boundaries break and people just get along, even if they have to try a little harder.

So, today was a very long and strange day. Only one more real academic day and a review day are left. The rest is a field trip and finals. So on this next to last real class day one of the kids who has been having a lot of troubles in the last month and a half decided to go the wrong way. If you're an adult, how does it feel when a 14 year old kid says "fuck you" TO YOU? Well, I experience it from time to time at school with these kids, but today, this one student accumulated more "fuck you"s in one day than I have gotten this whole semester. To top it off (actually, since it wasn't the last straw, I can't say it tops it off) he decided it would be funny to fart in the class. He does it often. I'm not sure if he has GI issues or if it really is intentional, but he is never apologetic and never seems to care that he always causes one other student to leave the room angry, another student to no shut up about it - therefore being distracted from doing actual work, and causing me to need to step out of the room. No, he's downright proud of such an accomplishment. The accumulation of all the crap and verbal abuse turned into a suspension for the rest of the academic days and restricted access to time to do his finals. Truth is, two months ago I would have felt very bad. Tonight, I think he's getting better than he deserves. It's still a question if he'll be back in the program next year. While I think he could succeed in our program, I think the cost would include bringing other students down and creating a hostile environment. The benefit of one nowhere near comes close to being more important the benefit of the whole or others.

To contrast is a freshman, about the same age, on the track team. He's an athletic high achiever, but he is still a normal kid. He's respectful and kind to me and even cares about what I think, about his running, but other things. He has his head on straight, even for a sometimes "airheaded" (as another person put it) freshman boy. Sorry, this is short on description... it doesn't need much. It's really that simple.

The connection? The father of the second boy is a guy I graduated high school with. He was an asshole to me a number of times. We didn't hang out. We didn't do the same sports. He wasn't college track, so we didn't even have a single class together. He just found a few reasons within the four year time span to be an ass to me. I never understood it. He was a few steps better than the first boy. I finally got to meet him again tonight and chat about his kid and him. He's changed. He sees what he was at that age and refuses to allow his kids to be that way. He was super positive and completely owned his past - and like me still know how to hold a proper grudge, not against me that is - and was a pleasure to speak with for the nearly 10-15 minutes it must have been. I told him I think his kid is great and he told me I have permission to keep his kid in line if he seems to be going in the wrong direction. I doubt it'll need to happen, but hey, he's a frosh, there's lots of time for things to change or even go wrong. I'm an optimist tough.

I said my good-bye and good luck for the summer to boy #2, wishing him a healthy and active summer, and looking forward to seeing him next year. Boy #1 is currently nowhere near to getting such a positive release statement. Of course me being me, I'll likely change my tune and come next Thursday (I won't be there Friday) I'll give him my best wished for the summer. I suppose that means, in all reality, "I hope you don't get locked up over the summer".

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