Monday, November 23, 2009

A trip down memory lane… or make that a moment when I remember how much of a glutton for punishment I am

One of my favorite things about Thanksgiving is that our school system takes the entire week off. A whole week of not going to school, not getting crazy mad phone calls from parents, not correcting kids for breaking the rules, and not being sleep deprived.

As usual, whenever I get a day off, I decided to clean. And by clean I mean I began to tackle chaos known as the picture cabinet.

That was where I found a picture of Queen.*

One year when I was teaching, Queen came to me around Valentine’s Day with ratty hair sticking out all over and dresses that were a little too short. Especially when she rolled around on the ground.

And she liked rolling around on the floor a lot. She refused to talk. She refused to make eye contact. She refused to even grunt when I asked her a question. Yet, she would scream and yell every time she was in the hallway.

I had to have a meeting with her grandmother to ask her to dress Queen in pants because there is a limit to the number of times one should be allowed to see someone’s underwear. The principal wanted Queen moved to a *special* school and I begged him to let us have more time with her.

He gave us until the end of the school year.

Queen ruined the calm routine that had been established in my classroom. My bad boys didn’t know what to do with Queen and her horrible communication skills.

Time passed. Queen began to trust. And I began to find a girl who had a great sense of humor. A girl who loved to draw. A girl who wrote rap songs.

She screamed less. She talked more. In class, she became a really likeable student.

Since we had to have success outside of just my classroom, we set a behavioral goal for Queen. For her reward, she wanted to go to the movies (a big reward for a big change in her behavior).

Just before the school year ended, Queen met her goal and I called her grandmother to set up our date. Since Queen had never been to the movies before, she insisted upon sitting on the front row. In a dress. Where no one else could see her panties when she rolled around on the floor for a few minutes.

I wonder where Queen is today. And I wonder if she still wears dresses.

*Not her real name

18 comments:

smiles4u said...

What a sweet story. How special you must have been to her. Glad you get the week off!

mo.stoneskin said...

Lovely. I imagine you often think of past pupils and wonder. And I wonder if Queen still writes rap songs.

otin said...

Thank goodness that you were her teacher and not her principal! A lesser teacher may not have cared that much!

only a movie said...

Oh my goodness, I was picturing a former student while reading the whole thing, Beth.
I had a Queen for my first year of teaching... I was always holding her hand to keep her from rolling around (as a 2nd grader). The coolest thing (and probably post-worthy in that synchronicity column on my blog) is that she moved to the same district where I teach now - (2 states away from where we both started) - and graduated last year. All grown up and not rolling around.
Thanks for inspiring my own trip down memory lane...
Have a fabulous holiday week. xoxo

Jules said...

I am soooooooooooooo jealous of you, it hurts!

Beth said...

smiles4u - She was a challenging student. But funny - and I loved her.

mo - I wonder if she writes rap songs, too. I do often wonder about my former students.

otin - Maybe not. But she was something else!

Erin - My Queen was in middle school when I taught her. And still rolling around. She was a hoot!

Jules - You want a Queen, eh?

TechnoBabe said...

I like the honesty in the very first sentence of this post. I can so understand even though I have never been a teacher, just a mother. My first reaction in reading about Queen was how she pulled the long straw when she was placed in your class and I bet she still knows and appreciates what you did for her back then.

Brian Miller said...

i often wonder about the kids i have worked with and where they are now...what a cool memory and you never know what that little extra you gave meant to her...happy thanksgiving and thank you for giving...

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

When I read this, I was totally picturing a young child, then read she was in middle school! You did such a good thing there Beth.

Midwest Mommy said...

You are awesome! And I hope wherever she is she is doing well.

Aunt Juicebox said...

I'm glad you get to experience some of the good stuff to counterbalance a bit of the bad. =)

Jan said...

I have had occasion to thank my lucky stars for teachers and educators like you. The people who guided The Young One through the first four years of elementary school were wonderful and amazing. I make sure they know how he is and what he is doing, and that they had something to do with what a truly great kid he is.

LucyCooper said...

Beth- I love you for this. It would have been so easy to give up on that girl, and you fought for her instead. Bravo, friend. And thanks for the big boo-boo tears in my eyes, too!

blueviolet said...

I hope that Queen has grown up and matured even more!

Brenda Susan said...

What a great teacher you are. You see beyond what others see & even though I am sure it hurts to care that much, it is huge for them! (My heart hurts to think of why she was like that.)
You helped change her life! wow.

Chief said...

I love this. It makes me think of the Queen at our school that was taken out of our school to go to a special school by her gaurdian. I worry about her

Ace said...

I want the whole week off!!! Excellent. We took off Weds through friday. The school district added weds a few years ago. Ohio needs to do the whole week too.

Lizzy Frizzfrock said...

What a wonderful story about Queen... and that's putting aside a whole week for Turkey vacation (in our district we FINALLY got Wed before Thanksgiving off).
I love the tale of Queen; wouldn't it be wonderful to see some of the students we taught eons ago & see how they turned out... but only if it was positive.