When John came to us, he was 14 years old and hadn’t been in a classroom for years. In fact, we searched and never found middle school records for him. Testing revealed he was working barely above an elementary grade level.
John was angry and discouraged when we met, and it made sense. His mother had died when he was 4 and his father, remarried, was in and out of his life, serving time in prison or traveling to construction jobs. John was living unparented in a home without regular meals or clothes for school. He needed a lot of help academically – but before that could happen, John needed to know somebody believed in him.
That’s where Ms. Mary begins her work. She’s the full-time teacher in his group home, and she understands how kids like John are resigned to failure, afraid to try. “We all told him you can do this,” Mary says. “You can do this. Every day we said, we are going to make sure that you have food to eat, you have clothes to wear, you have a shower, you are going to school – and you are going to do what you need to do.”
Mary started by giving John work she knew he could handle. “When he realized he could do it, he got that success experience. He lost a little bit of that fear and he tried something else. And we started moving up, gradually building that success and giving him that belief in himself.”
John is in high school now, with plans to go to culinary school – and we are delighted to see him working toward a dream.