Friday, May 15, 2009

"Two Years"

Sam comes into my room early morning. She's here to have me sign her checkout form. "You're my last signature." Everything's in order for graduation.

"See you in class, Ms. Cannon." 
"Really? Are you done painting your senior tile? Will graduation practice be done?"
"I dunno."
"Don't make promises then. I'll see you later."

Fourth period, last chance to attend class as a student, Sam sneaks in just after the bell. My plan this week is having students study old skills, present mini-lessons, and retake quizzes. I try to have her help some other students study a topic she's been working on, but when she ends up in a back desk, earbuds in, gazing at the word wall, I'm not bothered. Just curious what she's thinking.

"Two years this room."

From this desk to that one. From head-on-the-desk refusing to try to serious dedication getting things done. When I asked the vice principal about her two years ago, I was told stories of fights the year before. How a summer program transformed her and she was working for everyone else. I wondered how to get her to work for me.

I can't give you the recipe. It didn't work for everyone. But eventually, something clicked with Sam. After Failing my class last year (sorry), Sam made it through the first one and a half quarters this year. By third quarter she was back in the danger zone, with graduation requirements looming. I showed her exactly what she needed to do to get any grade she decided to aim for. It would take work, but we'd make it happen.

And happen it did. Up to passing in time for prom, Sam kept working. Celebrating each baby step along the way, passing wasn't enough. She wanted the best she could earn.

"Two years." 

At the Wacipi that afternoon, Sam hands me an envelope. Graduation invitation. Inside is another card that says "Thank You." The note inside is exactly what I needed to hear.

"You helped me more than anything."


Anonymous said...

Wow, that's amazing. Time to buy a frame for that note.


David Cox said...

Thanks for sharing this story. It seems to make it all worth it, huh?

Sarah Cannon said...

Sam, I actually had to take the note off the wall to scan it in. Think it's still in the scanner though.

David, it at least makes most struggles worth it. (Give me 10 years to hear back from a few students whose struggles involved more parental bullying. I'm really not sure what will make those worth it.)

Carol said...

Congratulations Sam and Sarah! Together you made it! Good luck next year!