Half a Cup of Blues

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

We Do Our Best ...

And, yes, I know that we can't SAVE them all but we sure do give it our best shot.

I had to say goodbye this morning to the young man who tried to attack me this last December. One of the staff who was helping in the situation ended up with broken ribs. It was an incredibly UGLY day. This very angry young man (still a boy in many ways) wanted to seriously hurt me and he was determined to do just that. He hurt so bad himself that pain was about the only thing he really knew how to share.

It took a group of us working with this boy every single day to let him know that we were NOT giving up on him and that we knew he could and would do better if he started to believe in himself. He came from a nasty history of domestic violence in his personal family and the family has been so fractured by violence that they are saturated. They don't want this boy to ever come back home. That is a terrible thing to be told by your own family, especially when they were the original ones who modeled the assaultive behaviors to him as a child.

At any rate we really saw some potential and we made that clear every chance that we got. We offered him another classroom to be in but he wanted to stay in mine. I have to be really honest and admit that I had really mixed feelings about that. I did believe that he could be better but I also wanted to keep my bones all in original condition. The only thing that I could do at this point was just to become the "mom" type figure that had abandoned him and make sure that I was there every single time that he was upset and work through it with him. This was a very time consuming strategy but you know what? It worked! At least at school it did. He has had near perfect behavior at school for 6 weeks now. He was writing me letters at the rate of 2-3 per day to express his fears, frustrations, and hopes. He started and ended every single school day with a hug. He wanted so badly to be the guy that we all knew he had the potential to be and he was well on his way.

Last week he had a court date and was told by his social worker that the family that he had hoped and thought would adopt him were not going to pursue it and that he should just let go of that "fantasy" and move on. He was simply devastated. At his group home that evening he was moody and curt and he had asked the staff (all male) to leave him alone and not to get into his "space" while he was thinking. A power struggle ensued and he ended up pushing the staff away. He was physically contained. This happened twice. His residential agency (sister company to my school) terminated his placement and gave his county seven days to move him to a new facility.

Today was his last day. He'll be moving to the Sacramento area tomorrow morning. We gave him a beautiful leather journal so that he can continue to use writing to express his feelings in a positive way. I still think that he can turn his life around and put violence behind him. He was already making huge strides and, even though he has setbacks, he can do it!

Sometimes the results come long after the students have left us and we can only hope or imagine how their lives turn out. In this case, I'm hoping that he stays in touch, maybe through the Values Blog Question of the Day or by writing me a letter now and then so that we can hear how it all turns out. We do our best to give them the tools but it is up to them to actually use them. I hope that he builds a great life!

Today's Plan: Think positive!


  • I hope he builds a great life, too.

    You gave him everything he needs. I hope he never forgets that.

    By Anonymous Allan, at 3/10/2006 7:06 AM  

  • You show incredible courage and belief in this fellow this is why he wanted to be with you as a teacher instead of the others.

    I, too hope that he will build himself a wonderful life.

    I can think of a lyrics of a Frankie goes to Hollywood song:
    "let yourself be beautiful, sparkling, love's flowers and pearls and pretty girls... love is like an energy, rushing, rushing inside of me..."

    By Anonymous anica, at 3/12/2006 4:41 AM  

  • Oh Chellie...nothing can ever shake your belief in your students. How inspirational can a woman BE? I wish him well.

    By Blogger Lexie, at 3/12/2006 10:13 AM  

  • This just made me cry! Now I'm off to work "the golden handcuffs!"

    By Blogger ShoeGirl, at 3/13/2006 6:25 AM  

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