by Jan Shoop
Sometimes students enroll and you wonder if they are going to be successful. It’s not that you don’t want every student to be successful, but sometimes students have so much going against them and make such poor decisions that you wonder if they have the drive to hang in there and graduate.
Several years ago, I enrolled just such a student. She was a freshman and a delightful girl. Her name was Juana. However, life was not kind to her. Juana started to make poor choices. Juana’s attendance dropped, her grades dropped and her attitude dropped. She chose the wrong boyfriend and the wrong group of friends. Her family went through some extremely difficult times. During Juana’s freshman, sophomore and junior years she would drop out and then re-enroll. It became a reoccurring pattern. Finally, partway through her junior year things really came to a head.
I was on the phone in my office when all of a sudden I heard raised voices. I quickly hung up and started for the door. When I opened the door, I could see two girls standing in front of the high school room angrily yelling at each other, Juana and another girl. By the time I got to the gate, one of the girls had taken the first swing. And then, “all hell broke loose.” The two girls were screaming, swearing and throwing punches at each other. I ran towards them and managed to wedge myself in between them trying to calm the situation down. Quickly some of the teachers and other staff arrived, and we got the two girls pulled apart. Needless to say, both girls were expelled.
Now, that could have been the end of the story, however, it wasn’t. At the end of the semester, Juana came to see me and asked to be re-enrolled. I said no.
At the end of the 3rd quarter, Juana came to see me again and asked to be re-enrolled. I said no again.
At the end of the year, Juana came to see me and asked to be re-enrolled once more. I said no. I was not convinced she would be successful and take school seriously.
Juana came to see me over and over again. We had many long talks. Finally after another year, I agreed to enroll her with the understanding that her grades would be excellent, her choices of friends outstanding and there would be no more fighting.
Juana returned to the school in the fall. She worked hard, was pleasant to all students and completed her classes. At the end of the school year, she graduated and gave a wonderful graduation speech. I’ve been through many, many graduations, but watching her walk across the stage and accept her diploma brought tears to my eyes. I learned that you never give up on a student no matter what the circumstances.
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