I am heartbroken. We are failing kids in DC and beyond, but DC really takes the cake for me today. It’s not the city per se…it’s what has been allowed to happen over and over again. School doesn’t meet the needs of a student. Student has challenges inside and outside of the classroom impacting their ability to learn. Student gets fed up, and drops out. Another one bites the dust.
This week I have been left to Facebook stalk a former student of mine. We met when he was five, in the Kindergarten class next door to my First grade classroom. He spent a lot of time in my classroom that year and was enrolled in my class the following year. We had already establish a strong rapport and I knew his aunt and father by name and had their phone numbers on speed dial. This child had a lot of energy, was extremely creative and artistic, had a terrible time following directions, very charming and had a huge heart. When he was in Kindergarten I remember getting down on eye level with him and saying to him, “I will be there when you graduate from high school and college, you can’t get rid of me.”.
Over the next five years I was his Principal and was able to keep a very close eye on him. Middle school rolled around and adolescence forced him to want more autonomy and we communicated less and less over the past few years. I knew he was in a strong middle school program and I helped him get into a high school that I knew was a small enough setting that he would be able to get the support he needed. Fast forward, August 30, 2011, after multiple messages back and forth and me promising I would not yell at him, he tells me he has been out of school for quite some time and wants to go back. All the details about why he has been out of school can be left up to the imagination.
Today, he is 17, has enough credits to maybe be a freshman, continues to live with a learning disability and will soon age out of the system completely. My charge is to get him into school by Friday. I have a few that I have selected and told him that we will go together and he needs to decide what is best for him because this is going to be tough…really tough.
My biggest fear now, is that we go, register, he attends for a short time, and becomes frustrated and drops out for good.
How many more kids do we need to see in this situation before we start making big changes? It is not a one size fits all. If the kid doesn’t fit the school, find a school that fits the kid.
What would you do?