The One Who Got Lost, Part II

What she wore: white sleeveless top with gold beads along the neckline, jean capris, and gold high heels.  I thought I was going to church, but now it seems ilke maybe I’ll be wearing this fabulous outfit to Walmart–a certain Hub is running late

This is part two, so if you missed the first part, look below.  This is long, but I won’t be blogging again till Sunday, so you can stop in the middle if you want and read the rest over the weekend.  I just didn’t want to leave you guys hanging for days.  Here it is, if it doesn’t make you angry, than you should get your pulse checked.
 

     Thomas was in and out of the alternative school his sophomore year.  This is a place where students are sent for anywhere from five to ten days for behavioral infractions.   As part of my contract, I would visit Thomas if he was at the alternative school to make sure that he wasn’t falling behind.  Whenever I showed up he was thrilled and he loved any chance he could get to improve his reading skills.

            Unfortunately, the other professionals (and I’m using this term loosely) at his school could not see the child that wanted to learn inside of Thomas.  All they could see was the rage and the shutting down.  I strongly suspect that they had trouble seeing past some other things as well, but you’ll hear more about that later. 

            Thomas was a student with a documented behavior disorder, but this school was not equipped to deal with students like him.  They had no class room for students like him and I knew of no other students on behavior plans at his school.  When Thomas began refusing to do his school work, they placed him in a room with other students who were retarded.  Yes, your read that correctly.  They placed a student who had an average IQ in a room full of low-functioning retarded kids because he had an anger problem.  Doing this did not stop his anger problem.  Instead, Thomas found another answer—he began skipping.

            Thomas would only come to school on days when he had my class.  Then he would often skip the rest of the day.  He wanted to get better at reading, but he hated being a room full of retarded kids.  The man placed in charge of Thomas’ behavior plan was a coach—yes, let’s put a professional yeller in charge of a child with rage problems.  That seems smart.  Thomas was supposed to report to this man each morning and sign in.  One day Thomas did not do this, and his teacher came to my classroom.  Each of my students were engaged in silent reading—an activity that we did for the first fifteen minutes of every class.  From the doorway of my classroom this man yelled, “Thomas, get over here.”  All the eyes in my room swiveled for the door—class interrupted.  Thomas said, “one sec.”  I could see his eyes struggling to find a stopping place on the page.  He was turning down the corner of the page when the teacher bellowed at the top of his lungs, “GET OVER HERE NOW.”   No one was reading at this point.  Thomas scooted over to the door and met with Coach Red Face.  After returning to class he refused to do any work, and I didn’t make him.  I was pretty pissed too and at least I didn’t have to report to that guy.

            Thomas didn’t come to school much after that. 

 

            Eventually he was sentenced to a juvenile rehab facility by the City’s juvenile judge.  I immediately began making calls when I heard this.  A friend called someone she knew and we learned that the judge had placed him there, so he could get intensive services for his problems.  While the center was primarily for drug users, Thomas had been sent there because of truancy. 

            During this time on of the school’s social workers called me discuss Thomas’s case.  I was the only one who provided the reading program he needed, so she was calling to find out what the alternatives were.  During the course of our conversation, I made a critical error: I admitting to caring about what happened to Thomas.  Stupid.  Never show weakness to other “professionals” in the school environment.    This counselor tells me, “well, you know he’s in a drug rehab place.”

“Yes, but he was placed there for truancy, not drugs”

“Well, I don’t know about that.  One of the kids here in the office said he was on crack.  And you know he lives in the projects.”

 

I was stunned.  First, you should NEVER discuss one child with another.  That’s a violation of what do you call it?  Oh yeah, their rights.  Second, Thomas had always been very adamantly against drug use.  He felt that anything that would affect your ability to play basketball was stupid.   And third, I don’t think where you live should change how people treat you.  Do I really need to explain these things to a social worker?

 

I tried to disagree with the woman.  Stupid, again.  I told her about how Thomas didn’t believe in drug use.  She told me, “It’s important to remember that you are supposed to be his teacher, not his counselor.”  At that point one phrase was running through my head: stupid bitch.  My ears were ringing. 

           

Thomas was released from the center over Christmas holidays and was never heard from again.  My best guess would be that he went to live with relatives somewhere else.  I know that I did what I could, and I also know that it wasn’t enough.   All I can do now is pray—and I still do.

 

Thomas, if you’re out there, I hope you’re OK.

 

KM 

 

I know you don’t need any more to read, but I’m off to a wedding!!!  I’ll be back on Sunday.  And I already know what my post will be about. AND, I getting a much needed digital camera, so I can start taking pictures of my own shoes.  Need to go order it now. . . 

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About takedeux

In one summer I had a baby who was hospitalized for five weeks, quit my job, and moved back to my hometown. This blog is about starting over.
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31 Responses to The One Who Got Lost, Part II

  1. Karla says:

    ONE MORE DAY!!!! WOOOOOHOOO!!! See ya soon, and don\’t forget your drinking hat!

  2. Cheryl says:

    No child left behind!  I believe sometimes it is easier for schools to just get rid of students and then society can deal with the aftermath.  Sad case….

  3. Sheryl-Ann says:

    Wow, not a good ending for Thomas.  I pray that wherever he is, that he is alright. Have a wonderful weekend!

  4. Eric says:

    If it means anything to you, I was nearly expelled from high school for anger issues.  I got into a battle of wills with one teacher that led to a horrible spiral.  Eventually, I managed to find the right people with whom to associate (my school was prepared to deal with my issues) and came out OK.  I credit a few specific people at my school with my mere survival.
     
    Hopefully Thomas will find his way to the right path and do OK, too.  I\’m sure you gave him hope to keep looking for the right people.

  5. K says:

    Here\’s to Thomas… may he be getting the help he needs while he remembers teachers that cared like you did.
     
    You did what you could… and then some more. 
     
    Ciao bella,
    KC

  6. Antonella says:

    Poor Thomas. You would like to think that everything will work out in the end, but that doesn\’t always happen. I really wish that everything works out for him. Hopefully, it will be enough that at least one person thought enough of him to try and help him.
     
    Have a nice week,
    Antonella

  7. ncjenn2nd says:

    Congratulations for standing up for Thomas where you could.  I know it meant a lot to him.  Don\’t be surprised if a wonderful man arrives at your classroom door one day and says how you changed his life.  One person who cares can make all the difference.  My students are obviously much younger than yours, but I can tell you, the ones that I take the time to care for, and show that SOMEONE wants them to succeed can think – at least one person loves me.  That is what you did for Thomas!  Keep up the wonderful work and use your summer break to heal yourself so that you can heal others:).

  8. Jaysey says:

    Our systems fail our children in so many ways.  Not only does it make me angry (pulse thumping), but it also makes me incredibly sad.  The worst part of it, as you alluded, is that the poeple (like the social worker) who are supposed to be helping kids like Thomas seem to become so desensitized that they can no longer see the children as individuals.  They become the worst stereotypers.  I can see how it happens, but I cannot excuse it for happening.  The one thing I wish for Thomas is that he didn\’t fall into the trap of becoming what all these people assumed he was–a loser, drug addict from the projects.  I hope he persevered and is happily shooting hoops somehwere and reading in his spare time.

  9. Gracia says:

    Another child fallen thru the cracks.
    My heart is broken by this account.
    KM, you did what you could and I\’m sure that if you could have done more, you would have. Thomas hopefully will remember what you instilled in him, be it just  for a short while. And hopefully those memories will sustain him – wherever he is.
    I pray for him and others like him – that their lives are touched, even if only in small ways, by the actions of caring adults, such as yourself. Because of the concern and care you demonstrate, children will survive and live to grow healthy, happy and strong.  

  10. Nadine says:

     I am not a big fan of coaches being teachers either. And I think Social workers have a set pattern they follow in handlin\’ the cases. And that they lump every one as one being and not taking each case for it own merits or discredits. If every one is differnt then each case is different and should be handled accordingly. Know what I mean…cuz I\’m lost!
     
     I had a football coach as an Oklahoma history teacher…..we were takin\’ a test……one of the questions was, "What are the Major Colleges in Oklahoma?" My girlfriend was on the other side of the room and she couldn\’t  remember what they were…..For Pete\’s sake!!! There are only two!!!! I was mouthin\’ her the O-U and she just couldn\’t get it……by the time I pulled up my OU shirt to show her, I had the whole classes attention….but that coach never said a word, he never looked up…he must have been asleep!! Rumor has it that he would let the first hour class watch football films from the Friday night game on Monday mornings….hhhhmmmm is that why football is God in Oklahoma?

  11. WINDOW LIVE says:

    I am sorry about this boy.  It happens a whole lot here in my district because of the socio-economic division.  It is why I have no respect for the educational process and wish I had home schooled my children.  I pray every morning for the lost children, administrators and teachers.  I know there are more teachers like you out there and I pray that they take over.  Have a wonderful weekend.

  12. Gina says:

    Why do some schools feel "outta sight, outta mind" is the way to go when dealing with children.  They always seem to look for the easy way out and refuse to put the effort in actually making a difference.  Seems to me that their are some social workers out there that shouldn\’t be social workers.

  13. Betsy says:

    That\’s such a sad story and one that is too common.  It sounds like you were doing great work with him and might have been his path to success if the  others hadn\’t gotten in the way.  Who knows- maybe to this day Thomas remembers you as his favorite teacher and someone who cares.  My mom was a school social worker for years and now that a lot of her kids are getting to be young adults they are turning up in the news for not great things. I know she always wonders what else they could have done for the kid or remembers "the Coach" who ruined all the work they had done.
    You do great work and the kids are so lucky that you care for them like you do!  I hope you always have the passion for teaching, especially the ones like Thomas who need you the most!

  14. Unknown says:

    I did not read you post, and for that I ask apologies, for I read what you wore, stopped to comment, because I now want that same outfit, other than the Restaurant Clothes I am wearing today—read, comfortable, breathable, slightly fashionable, and low-heeled.

  15. Becca says:

    Wow. At least you CARED enough to try to do right by Thomas when no one else did. You can say that. I hope that he is getting what he needs.
    Take care,
    Rebecca

  16. Carine says:

    Wow, Once I started reading, There was no way I was going to stop. That is just so wrong.
     
    Girl, You are an amazing human being for so many reasons. #1 being you truly care.
    and your gifted, because had it been me in your shoes I would have droven over and smacked that woman! 
     
    Bravo!!
     
    Have a great weekend:)
     
    – C

  17. Unknown says:

    Most of these "professionals" never really understand the kids they have "expertise" in. My mother is a librarian in an elementary school, and she deals with every sort of "problem" possible. I don\’t know what it is that she has more than anyone at the school (an unfinished Ph.D in Microbiology, unfinished because of me), but she can solve problems.If the kids that my mom deals with are any indication at all, please know that the kids you do your best to help really appreciate what you do.Anyways, I will be majoring in Materials Science/Engineering. It\’s a nice, small, but highly sought field. And, I like the subject matter.-Josh "The Ender"

  18. Kelly says:

    The stupidest thing was never done by you. It was by the couselor who told YOU not to be a couselor. "Stupid bitch" doesn\’t quite cover all the things she is, but most importantly she doesn\’t understand HOW to care for a child. It\’s holistic. It doesn\’t come in neat little packages with labels telling you what to care for and how to behave in certain situations. Sometimes, the things we end up caring for are because no one else has bothered to care for them.

    Thomas sounds like he was resilient. A fighter. Have hope that he\’s ok.

    Then, you need to BE ok so you can help others. There are more. They are coming.

  19. Sandy says:

    Ther are good teacher and there are bad teachers. You really sound like a good teacher.  Can we clone you. hehe! 
    Really, we need teachers like you that actually care about the students (and not jus the ball players and ones whose parents have $).  There are only a handfull of good teachers that are limited  because of the system. Why this is not more of a national concern, I do not know.  But IT NEEDS TO BE! 
    Raven

  20. Toni says:

    i just noticed the red and white shoes below…maybe shoe shopping will cheer me up! this story just enraged me…the world is so full of judgemental people–after reading this, i realize they all work in your district. maybe they just get numb to it all after a while and after years of being "professional" they completely loose their heart for the kids. pity. i hope no matter what happens to your students down the road, you never treat them as though you don\’t care…you just can\’t help but care–they\’re growing human beings without the advantages and opportunities people like you and i were given…
    thanks for the comment on my space…it means so much to me–and i\’m not just saying that. things went well with the doc today–i will post more about it sometime soon–maybe later on this evening if i get a chance. thanks again and enjoy the rest of the trip. have fun at the wedding! ~toni

  21. Karen says:

    I don\’t know how you do it.  Reading this brought tears to my eyes – how can people be so ignorant?  Especially people who are supposedly in a "caring" profession, like a social worker?  Working at a community mental health agency, I know that social workers do get burned out, but I\’ve never heard one of our social workers judge somebody that way, based on where they live or even what they\’ve been through.  I think that woman is in the wrong job.
     
    I am sure you made a difference in Thomas\’ life, evidenced by the fact that he had been attending your class regularly.  I really commend you for your work.
     
    Have fun at the wedding; have a great weekend & God bless you!

  22. Unknown says:

    Funny, I have this little bubble of faith in me that knows that Thomas is just fine.
     
    Hope you have a grand weekend!
     
    your friend,
    Mercy

  23. Mrsbrown2k1 says:

    Your an amazing teacher! Only if there were more of you. 
     
    I had an experiance when I was in the first grade where I was the super shy child.  So the teacher thought it was wise to put me at the table with all the rowdy boys to teach me to stand up for myself. Back fired on her.  I ended up coming home crying every day as the boys would beat up on me at recess & after school.  The teacher thought nothing was wrong with this.  My mom complained to her & the school.  She told my mom I had too many manners.  The principal said I needed psycological help.  Hello I was a noramal child just shy.  Needless to say I transferred  to a private school for the next 6 years and made straight A\’s. 
     
    Who knows what would have happened if I stayed in the public system & followed the schools recommendations.
     
    Keep up the great work.
    Tam in Texas

  24. Unknown says:

    Ms. B1tch is pleased you came by and commented.
     
    She appreciates these things.

  25. Christine says:

    I was a school nurse for seven years.  Our "counselor" was heavily involved in the union.  When he was in the building, he was good at what he did, but he was often gone.  I had many teachers judge kids before they knew (or even if they did know) the whole story.  I had kids who were so starved for affectiona dn attention that they could fake asthma attacks and dislocate shoulders whenever they felt like it.
    One family in particular comes to mind.  Divorced parents, mom a bit off, but loves her kids.  The children began to act out.  Mom was suddenly no longer accessible.  Come to find out, mom was in the hospital being treated for some form of cancer.  Several of the teachers didn\’t care.  The behavior was unacceptable, so they labelled the kids as bad kids.  It is always frustrating.  May God watch out for the Thomas\’ of the world.
     
    Christine
     
    P.S.  I finally have a photo from the prom.  Swing by and see it when you have a chance.

  26. Unknown says:

    Your story definitely makes me angry…I worked with "inclusion" students…so I saw a lot of "special education" students, and honestly I got so sick of the classifying…too many kids get lost in the cracks of the system.  I found that when these kids were in a normal, average classroom they had motivation to succeed because they didn\’t want to be embarrassed.  Honestly, I just think too many educators get lazy…they don\’t want to do the individual work it takes to really connect with a student and help them.  I found it was the greatest feeling in the world to see one of my strugglers find success…you have completely helped them to see a world of opportunity where they once just felt hopeless. 
     
    That is the biggest thing I will miss about being a teacher while I am staying home with my daughter.  Never stop believing in your students…it sounds as though you are passionate and really care! 
     
    Amanda

  27. Aaron says:

    Hi well you have quite the following here.  I just stumbled upon your site from one of the comments you left on a featured site.  I read it and had to agree that it\’s the regulars that keep coming back to the site that make it worth blogging.  I\’m just starting out.  I\’m beginning to get some regulars though, sounds like a bar, lol.  Anyway have a great day.
     
    Aaron. 

  28. Laura says:

    That is unacceptable! Not what you did, but the way that poor kid was treated. I really took my education for granted, and it is sickening to hear about people who want to learn, but are given so many problems in doing so. I really feel for you and him here… but I am sure he knows you cared

  29. Unknown says:

    Hey you!!
     
    Thank you for such sweet words! 
     
    We got back Friday night and took a much needed break from reality yesterday and went to the mall.  Can I just say….. I never, ever look at womens shoes the same way now!!  I saw at least 10 pairs that you would\’ve loved!  I suggested to Sue that we meet in the middle somewhere for pedicures.  That would put us on the edge of TN closest to Arkansas.  Wanna go shopping?  🙂
     
    ~Ashlie

  30. Unknown says:

    Poor Thomas. I have worked with kids in similar situations my whole life. I have also been appalled by som e of the "professionals" who are in these kids lives : P
    Take care, hugs, Kat

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