I can't say that I have ever been the new kid or teenager on the block. I have been the new adult on the block, several times in the last decade, but that is sooooooo different than in those formable years.
We have a new student at school. How hard it must be to move to a new school with 30 days left to the school year. I'm going to call this student "Larry".
I received an email from our counselor on Tuesday afternoon with Larry's grades...straight A student. He was being placed into my Consumer Math class. And with only one male in their currently, I was excited that there would now be another one in there.
Yesterday, Larry joined us for class. He slept through a video that I showed on 'Extreme Couponing', and I thought "OH NO, is he really a straight A student". But when I passed out the worksheet on calculating discounts, he was the only student that didn't need some guidance. He responded to me with "Yes, Ma'am" or "No, Ma'am", something rarely heard in our high school. And I'll admit, I got excited.
Well my enthusiasm was short lived. Today, I couldn't get him to do anything for the first part of class. I don't believe he filled in any blanks while watching the video. When I passed out the worksheet for the day, he just sat there. When I approached him to see if he needed help getting started, he said, "Well, I'm just going to fail this class anyways."
This SHOCKED me. He is a straight A student coming into a class that everything is OpenNote. But then he elaborated:
"I don't want to be here. If I fail, I can go back to Florida. I'm never going to play football again, so why does it matter?"
I did speak to him in the hallway and tried to convince him to do the work because if he does get to go back to FL then he would go back with his straight As not with failing grades. And that he would want to keep up his grades so that he can play football in the fall.
Long story short: Larry is a new kid at school. He is lonely. He misses his friends. He probably misses the warm weather of FL on this February-like day in April in Colorado. I can't even imagine how he feels.
On my way home from school today, I saw Larry hitching a ride. I drove passed him and then turned around to give him a ride. I know, as a teacher I shouldn't be picking him up, but I just felt like I needed to.
I think he was surprise to see that it was one of his teachers. I asked him where he was going and if his father knew where he was. He was going to the restaurant (well, ok, its really a bar) a the bottom of the hill to my neighborhood. I asked him why. His response:
"Its the only place I get service so I can talk to my friends in FL". Ok, my heart officially broke.
So to add to the list of new school, feeling lonely, feeling cold, NOW he doesn't have cell phone service!?!?!???!?! (We live in a rural mtn community where only Verizon works).
Again, I can't even imagine. And yes, I have tears in my eyes, just thinking about this kid.