Friday, February 19, 2010

Comeback Kid?

That’s what I am hoping Jose will be…the kind of person who rebounds and doesn’t look back, just when everyone is ready to give up on him. Jose, despite his intelligence and desire to go to college, over the past few months landed himself with one suspension after another.

What happened to our self-proclaimed 2010 valedictorian? Three major events in his life de-railed him. (I say that with the caveat that he is responsible for his actions, and he knows when he is doing something that will lead to a suspension, arrest, or worse.)

First, his mother, with whom he has a problematic relationship, came back into his life after a long stint in the hospital. Second, he was not allowed to join our group on the trip to Philadelphia – the sole motivating factor that kept him working hard through his first suspension. And, third, a new student entered our class and challenged Jose’s social authority, specifically his “street” credibility (read: toughness, masculinity, street-smarts).

The crazy thing is, Jose is still getting almost all A’s on his school work and hands all his work in on time! Even though his actions warrant suspensions, all the school leaders and staff truly like him. If he wasn’t so charismatic and smart, this might not be the case.

Right now what Jose needs is a new, attainable goal, a target he can reach: becoming valedictorian is out of the question. I need something else to hook him and give him some perspective. I’m still mulling over ideas for just what that “hook” should be…