Wednesday, March 21, 2007


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.....


for_the_lonely said...

Hey Green,
I commend you for sticking to it and helping Patrick out. When I substituted, there were so many children that truly needed someone to work with them, one on one, and simply just to BE there for them liek no one else is in their life. It was so heartbreaking and gut wrenching to hear teachers in the break room talk about how rotten some of the children are, and how they could not wait until they were out of their class. All these children need is LOVE!

One of my hardest days of substituting was when a little boy was not participating during a math session. Instead, he was sketching in his notebook. I asked him to bring me his paperwork so that I could look over it, and he refused. I then told him that I was willing to help him, if need be, and still, he wouldn't budge. Finally, I walked over to his desk, and saw that he had sketched images of drug paraphernalia as well as sexual images. This little boy was a 5th grader. It broke my heart and soul into a million little pieces when I had to walk him to the office. To this day, I always think about him, and hope that he is doing well. As much as it hurt me, I knew that I did the right thing. I can only hope that someday, he will see it too.

You are an amazing soul and light, G. May you always be as blessed as you have blessed those around you.


Misty said...

I read your comment and came to read your post! I am so happy that you are helping him. I know it's hard and easy to let it break your heart. My classroom is full of children who have so little and have so many issues that get in the way of their learning. I think with Patrick he needs someone on his side. Use his love of art--to your advantage. Tell him if he does what you need to do for a certain amount of time you will give him a reward at the end of the week or time together. Maybe he would like some new markers or crayons? Or time to draw after. I bet he would love to draw for a bit after following the directions and things you need him to do. Good luck and I hope to hear more about how it's going. It's not an easy job. Thank you so much for visiting my blog even when I'm boring :) I just have had so little time to blog lately!

alan said...

Thank you for your visit!

Thank you as well for doing something so wonderful as you are with Patrick!

There are so many children out there who can change this world if someone just gives them a bit of a boost! Thank you for doing so!

I was very happy to wake up this morning and find out that the Edwards campaign will continue, though everytime NPR did a piece on her diagnosis I teared I did when I read your blog entries about your volunteer work.

It's nice to meet you!