A recent visit to my Woman's Club by a PERA introduced us to a volunteer program at a nearby school.
It is highly diversified and many of the parents are not fluent in English.
They needed volunteers to help some of the children with reading and writing.
She gave such a compelling message, I decided to give it a shot.
It has been about a month now. I was assigned a 3rd grade boy I will call Patrick.
The first visit he was a little apprehensive but cooperated with me and we went through the folder that Ms.T had given me.
Patrick speaks with and accent and is from one of the African countries, my guess Liberia.
He is very bright, but right now as a 3rd grader he is only reading at a 1st grade level.
Recently when I have gone to the classroom to pick him up for our session it has been harder and harder.
He doesn't want to go with me but eventually he meets me in the media room and we go through his words and read a couple of the books, do some math and phonics pages and then I take him smiling back to his room with stars on his pages.
Yesterday was a bummer as I explain below.
Tuesday March 20,2007
My little Patrick had a complete meltdown today..He did not want to leave his classroom with me..I went down to the library to wait for him,when he finally came in a male teacher or maybe principle I'm not sure, came in with him and his teacher,
Ms. T....the poor little thing was distraught...I wanted to just hug him..but sat back and watched the teachers handle the situation.
Eventually he calmed down, after being told by the male teacher that if he didn't act respectfully he would be through for the day.
I was able to work with him for about 30 minutes..then took him back to class.
I have found out that he spent 8 years in a refuge camp with no structure and is having trouble giving up control. He can't be much more then 8 now...I feel just awful for this kid...
I have recognized that he has a talent in drawing so for the last 10 minutes I let him draw a picture..he drew a house with trees around it.
When I asked him where the house was he said "It yours"
I cried most of the way home, because all I could think of was, what will become of this kid ? Will the system break him,
or will he eventually become productive?
How many more kids are there out there like this?
Then I think about all of our kids and the opportunities they have that they don't use, and it makes me even sadder.
I wish I had an answer but I'll just have to see what next week brings.
Ms.T wants me to come back next Tuesday, I think she was afraid yesterday would do me in, but I don't give up that easily.
Tuesday they are having tests and he can't take them so she doesn't want him in the classroom distracting the other kids.
It should be an interesting day.....