He was 15 years old.
Poor home life.
Students loved to say and do things that set him off.
It happened several times. Yelling and screaming. A broken window. A knife.
People at times were understandably afraid of him. There were plans in place to handle him. You were never to yell at him in front of others, or even to point out when he was in the wrong. Basically, if he was in your class, you handled him with kid gloves.
A recipe for trouble.
I remember the first day I really talked to him.
Three years ago in May, I sat in the library while my students were researching a speech. He was sitting at a different table with the man who was his one on one aide. The man was a retired teacher hired just to follow this student around, and make sure he got some work done in class. But mostly, this man was hired to make sure the student didn't fight with others in the hallway.
The boy came over and sat down beside me.
"Mrs. Day, can I talk to you about speech?"
"Sure. What do you want to know?"
He, like most freshmen, was afraid to take my class. Mostly, because it was speech, but, also, he had heard in junior high that I was tough. We talked for the entire class period.
There were minor incidents in my classroom the semester I had him in class, but for the most part, he was a good kid. He worked hard on his speeches and really liked doing them. He always did his best for me. And I always let him know when he did well.
He came back for a visit a few weeks ago. He had just been released from the facility where he was sent. We chatted for quite awhile. I asked about what he did in the facility and how he was doing now.
"It was pretty good, Mrs. Day. They really helped me handle my anger issues. I haven't hit anybody in months. I also got caught up on my classes. I might be able to graduate with my class next year."
He wants to go into the service. I'm not sure how that will go, but it might be just the thing he needs. Structure and discipline. Something he didn't get a lot of at home.
Why did I write about this young man. Because today, you see, I got a letter in my school mailbox. The grammar wasn't correct, nor was the punctuation. But it was sincere. And the last line made me cry--
In all Mrs. Day, I would like to say thank-you for believing in me.
And that is why I teach.