The home stretch of the school year is upon us. 4 days this week, 2 full days next week, 3 half days and poof, it is all over.In some ways, it has been a great school year. I've had the pleasure of getting to know some wonderful students. I've had the pleasure of having some students again in class, students I knew as 7th graders, way back when, who are now grown up, mature 10th graders. I've seen students mature over the course of the year, learning to make more appropriate choices, learning to deal with frustration and disappointment by tackling it head-on. I've seen students learn to cope with their shortcomings by applying themselves, finding strategies to overcome their weaknesses, and by learning to ask for and accept help. I've enjoyed their journey, and being a part of that progress.
Some students were students I had already known. Others were new to me. I've met some great kids, ones I will remember for their kindness to others, their charismatic personalities, their willingness to tackle challenges head-on. I've gotten to know some personally, learning of their struggles outside of school, their unique family situations. I've learned about their dreams, their hopes, their plans. I've wiped their tears, hugged them when they needed it, and high-fived their achievements. I've seen students learn to be a part of social groups, accepting friendships offered, eating in the cafeteria for the first time, walking with a friend in the hall, joking and laughing with classmates.
On the other end of the spectrum, I've dealt with students who do not want to mature, grow or learn. These are the faces that will haunt me. The unreachable's, the ones I was unable to connect with, the ones I seemed to be unable to make a difference with, academically, socially, or any other possible connection. They shut out the adults who try to help them, refusing to budge one inch towards maturity. For some, time will lead them down that path. For others, I fear the destination is set already, at the end of a path they've already charted. They will end up dropping out of school, and for many, incarceration is the destination they've set their sights on. I feel sadness for them, knowing I, or any adult here, was unable to reach them, unable to change their path, unable to find a way to make that connection that would give them another option in life.