"He was in such danger..." ~ Jane Eyre
*I know many of you watch Gray's Anatomy and think the theme song by the Fray, How to Save a Life, is about being in the medical field. It isn't. The song was written by a band member in the Fray about his experience mentoring a teenager addicted to cocaine. I am sure it makes more sense to you now.*
Step one you say we need to talk.
Ryan came to me at the beginning of ninth period today explaining why he was absent from my class this morning.
"Another court date, " he said quietly.
In the past year I have had Ryan as a student, for he is repeating American Literature this year with me, I have never known him to be quiet. In the past he has usually been loud, obnoxious, and impulsive with his words. He is diagnosed with ADHD, but he has complicated matters in the past because of the crack I know he used. He smoked so much this past summer that he robbed a convenience store one night when high. No weapons; he just faked having a gun in his pocket. He has been in many physical fights in the building; at one point the Dean's Office wouldn't even handle him anymore - he went straight to the principal when it came to handling his behavioral issues.
There has never been a time I have been scared to be around Ryan; I know he would never hurt me. He has puppy dog eyes and a shit eating grin that is contagious. He is so damn smart. The ADHD impedes him from performing at his best; this child has a high IQ. It is the nature of his illness - he cannot help himself. Period. It is not his parents; I have had his siblings and I know his parents well. The ADHD is a demon. A demon. We have fought often. He has walked out of my room at times. At other times I send him out.
He walks you say sit down its just a talk.
I tell him that I didnt realize that he was back in court today, and then I apologized for kicking him out. I know he was not cooperating out of nervousness. Most days have been good; yesterday felt like a regression back to the battle-filled mornings of last year between us.
He smiles politely back at you.
"It's ok, it's ok. Here is my note from this morning." He looks exhausted as he asks for the homework.
You smile politely right on through.
I tell him to sit down and he does. I say, "Babe, what happened this morning?" I call him babe. All my students are my babies. Mind you, I had to throw him out of class yesterday.
Ryan tells me that he is not going to jail, but that he is being considered for probation. Lately Ryan has been making a turn around, so I know that this judge is doing the right thing by reviewing his latest performance record both with behavior and academics. I sigh a sigh of relief and tell him that I am proud of the turnaround that he has done this year.
Some sort of window to your right
as he goes left and you stay right
between the lines of fear and blame
and you begin to wonder why you came
Last spring I sat in a meeting with his father, who cried during a good portion of the meeting. This was two months before he was arrested.
Where did I go wrong I lost a friend
somewhere along in the bitterness
and I would have stayed up with you all night
if I'd known how to save a life
"Ry, is this over? Please tell me this turnaround is for good, not just because of the charges." I am exhausted, too.
Let him know that you know best
cause after all you do know best
try to slip past his defense
without granting innocence
lay down a list of what is wrong
the things you told him all along
and pray to God he hears you
He assures me with his puppy dog eyes that he has learned his lesson. I believe him. I do. I tell him he will pass English this quarter and that I can send a letter to the judge if he needs me to. I tell him to go home and rest and that I will see him in the morning. I also tell him that the next piece of literature we study will be read aloud in class, so he will understand it more easily. Death of a Salesman. He thanks me again, and I pat him on the back.
Ryan will be saved; I know that. But for each one that is saved, two more are not. I called a parent of another student this morning telling her about his poor academic performance. There were bigger fish to fry; she told me that she had his sister follow him home. Just that afternoon he left school early to go do meth with three friends at the house. He wants to drop out of school; the drugs have so overtaken his mind that he is disaffected. Last year a student I had, Carl, dropped out in March after he was jumped for what he was carrying. He was, by far, the angriest student I have ever met. He is a drug dealer now, walking the streets day and night. Two years ago I had a sophomore leave two months into school to enter rehab after he was found unconscious during a rave under the Brooklyn Bridge.
This is not the inner city. The majority of the students in my building are white. Drugs are a silent epidemic in all high schools, whether it is inner city or suburbia. The administrators are in denial of the problem, as are the parents. Teachers, including myself, are not. Drugs impact me in horrific ways daily. I get really tired of it. Really tired.
And you begin to wonder why you came...
Reader, welcome to my life.
- Name: ThursdayNext
- Location: New York, United States
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
"He was in such danger..." ~ Jane Eyre