I work in Neverland, I think. You know, the place where Peter Pan and the Lost Boys went because they didn’t want to grow up.

Today when I walked in to school R., who usually greets me with a paper, greeted me with, “I’m not in a good mood!”

Of course I asked why. R. is mentally handicapped, and it touches my heart that he has taken it upon himself to give me a paper when I walk in the door. Turns out that another one of the boys with whom I work had bent R.’s finger back on the bus. R. wants this boy kicked off the bus. I just told him that I hoped the rest of his day went better.

Second period, I had to do ISTEP remediation with D. Now, I like D., but he has some problems and he CANNOT read, which probably means he will never pass the ISTEP. He can still get a waiver and graduate with his class, but he has to take the test every time it is offered and take all the remediation that’s offered, which he doesn’t want to do because he knows he can get the waiver.

When I wouldn’t write him a pass to talk to the principal and try to get out of the remediation, D. returned to the room and tried to get a pass out of the other teacher. Nobody ever said the kid doesn’t have a brain; he just doesn’t read. He went to the office during passing period and showed up in third (where he gets to enjoy my company yet again) telling me that he WILL get his way.

Now, I see D.’s point. He has two study halls, but he really doesn’t read and the people at home don’t read, so he wants to get his work done during the study halls and, believe me, that takes the effort and concentration of whatever support person works with him as well as his own. So to D., remediation wastes valuable time, and it may. But it’s the law.

Fortunately, he was mostly over his little snit by third period, but the seniors,  D. being one of them, are doing a poetry project for which they have to pick out and analyze ten poems. The idea is to get them to APPLY the poetry terms they have been taught to poems that they like, and in order for D. to pick out his poems, I had to read them to him, which really isn’t remediation or learning , but I think poetry is hard for high school kids to read even if they are good readers. So I did it.  And he picked out two.

In fifth period, I have a lot of students with emotional handicaps, so in order to keep the peace, I have to sit between them. Our seats are lined up against the wall. See, the problem is that two of the boys have decided that one of the other boys looks at them too much, and this way they have to lean past me to look at each other. Sounds like kindergarten, you say? I agree. These are sophomores.  But the seating arrangement currentlly keeps an uneasy peace, which is better than nothing.

The boys who aren’t mine in the fifth period class are inordinately proud of their bodily functions, which is sort of like kindergarten, too. Sometimes I remind them that I am a girl and such things do not impress me, but most of the time I don’t bother because, well…they don’t really care. It’s easier to stop them by rolling your eyes.

In seventh period, once again I work with boys. Today I worked with I. and J., K. being absent. J. had indigestion, so he only got one page of a five page test done.  I know you think that the indigestion and the test are not related, but J. can only handle one problem at a time, and since he was obsessing over the indigestion, well… there went the test!   I even gave him the notes to use! J.knew he was pushing his limits and said what he needs is his dad who, unfortunately, committed suicide in 2003. Now, what do you say to that? Maybe J. is being manipulative, or maybe he really is still traumatized. Either way, he was fixated on his indigestion, which meant the test didn’t get done.

And then there’s Sam I Am. I didn’t know until January that there is a boy’s home in the town where I work, and Sam I am is one of its occupants. He doesn’t seem like that kind of boy. He likes to read, and he and I have bonded over crossword puzzles. The way I discovered that he liked them was by leaving a partly finished one on my seat, which is next to Sam’s. He likes to snitch it and finish it, and although all his words do not always work, he’s pretty good at them. He’s a wiz at word jumbles, too. I have to play with them, but Sam looks and sees the word. And then grins at me and tells me how easy they are.

Today, Sam I Am was absent. He left early yesterday. Boys from group homes get placed elsewhere a lot. Is he gone?Maybe. I feel like Peter Pan’s Wendy because I wonder.

Or maybe I am more like Tinkerbell. As I wander from class to class, lending pencils, writing passes for materials, dispensing candy bribes and generally just being a cheerleader, I think maybe I’m sprinkling my own fairy dust.

Thing is, do you think if I sprinkle enough of it, some of them will believe? Will they try, will they graduate, will they make something of themselves?

Some say that most of the Lost Boys grew up.

Will mine?


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February 2007
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