Tuesday, December 1, 2009

a small thank you

Well, after previewing the photo I just attached, I realize that either I had the shakes when I took this shot or the resolution on my phone camera is pretty subpar. The picture I took is of the tender good-bye note from Mr. Lopes, who did, in fact, leave the program (on good terms) yesterday. I had let him borrow a book over the Thanksgiving break, which he read cover to cover, and he did, in fact, return the book to me - much to the surprise of several staff members and one clinician. Seems like people here thought J-Lo was either going to 1) never crack the book, or 2) steal it. Neither of these scenarios took place.

It warmed the cockles of my heart when I arrived at my classroom door to find Hoop City sitting on a chair with a handwritten note. I realize that Mr. Lopes' inscription isn't quite legible in the image above, so I'll transcribe: "Thank you Miss, I loved this book. It's a graet book and I want to tank you for what you started in me becuase I think I love to read now. Thank you again. J-Lo."

This is the kid who, on his recent home pass, decided to drive a stolen car without a license and got himself arrested, no less than 48 hours before he was to have graduated from G House. This is the kid who everyone says is never going to make it, because of a lack of common sense and sound decision-making skills. It's true, J-Lo may be the kind of G House graduate who ends up in the adult system as a lifer. But in my eyes, I have to celebrate this tiny success story: a kid who announced to me on our first day of class, "Yo, Miss, I don't read" became the young man who thanked me for lighting a little fire of literacy in him. What a dramatic change.

I found Mr. Lopes before he headed out with his caseworker yesterday. I thanked him for all his hard work and dedication he showed in my class. I gave him two books to take with him, wished him the best of luck, and gave him a hug. Then, I went up to my classroom, sat at my desk, and had myself a quiet little cry.

I'm getting a new student tomorrow. And the story begins again...

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