There’s a young lady in one of our Intermediate Algebra classes who has had terrible attendance lately. I was starting to wonder if we’d see her at all before the semester is up. Moments after I had checked to see if she was truant in her other classses also (she was), she walked into the room. 

“Oh! Hey, S!” I’m sure my voice did not hide my surprise. 

“Where have you BEEN?!” another student asked. (I love it when they ask for me.)

“Hell,” she replied. “I’m dropping out.”

“No!!” I said a bit louder than I had anticipated. 

As I looked for her missing test (she will get her missing work in), a classmate started giving her information about our Alternative School. This classmate attends Alt Ed during the morning, so she was giving first-hand knowledge. 

I loved how she jumped in and started problem-solving. I assume these girls are not friends outside class. They are both new to the district. But the second girl felt like she had a viable solution for the first young lady and didn’t hesitate to help her peer. 

As I was attempting to quickly review the girl for the test she missed, I noticed her hands bore marks that told me she had most likely been in a fight. 

I stopped talking math for a second. “How are you doing?”

Her eyes watered; she caught a tear as it threatened to fall down her cheek. “Not good.”

There’s a good chance I read the situation completely wrong, but what I sensed in that moment was that she felt she had no control over her life. So I reminded her that this class is one of her strengths and one of the things she can control. She could still finish the course with an A if she worked for it. 

She sat there and finished her test and made a 96. 

I don’t know what will happen to this lady. I hope beyond hope she doesn’t drop out. 

And maybe maybe maybe…success in math class will be a reason to stay…

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