Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Jose, our self-proclaimed valedictorian, who has shown so much growth this year, academically and emotionally, got suspended this week. He got a 5 day in-school suspension for being rude to a teacher and walking out of school. At first I was shocked, but I knew he would stumble at some point.

When I walked into the suspension room, or Accountability Studio as they call it, he was in the corner doing work. Normally suspended students run amok in the Studio, so, to see him working quietly in the corner showed me that he realizes he made a mistake, and he doesn’t want to fall behind in school.

This past week I dealt with more crisis than usual overall, and I think it has to do with the Thanksgiving holiday. For a lot of the children we work with, the holidays bring up all the tension, insecurity and anger they try to suppress. The holidays are stressful for kids in broken homes, living in poverty, or dealing with any types of issues with their families. This week that a lot of kids were on edge emotionally – even the smallest event could set them off. One girl had her hair pulled and ended up weeping in our office for an hour. On any regular weekday, she would have gotten over the situation a lot faster and with less emotion.

I also noticed this week that Jose was wearing a button of his uncle who was in a Puerto Rican motorcycle gang, and was killed. He used to wear the button last year, but stopped since September. I’m not sure why Jose started wearing it again this week, but I think perhaps it’s because of the holiday. He’s still not living with his mother, and this family-centered holiday must be difficult for him. His uncle is a male role model –albeit a negative one – and maybe he needs the thought of a male figure to help him get through the holidays without his mom, or dad.

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