From my office upstairs, I heard a loud thud as something hit the side of the building.  I went outside to investigate and was quickly informed by Mario* that Joseph* was responsible for the sound.  Apparently it is much more fun to throw a ball against a door than to use the spacious basketball court a few yards away.

Wednesdays are always half-days of school in our neck of the woods, so it wasn’t unusual for these two to be out of school early.  However, as I was asking Mario and Joseph how school is going, they both reported that they are suspended — one for not doing homework, and the other for talking back to a P.E. teacher.  Joseph is a 5th grader who should be in 7th grade.  If his facts are correct, his suspension will keep him out of school the remainder of this week and also next week.  Mario’s suspension period isn’t quite as lengthy, but still covers several days. 

I asked both boys if their parents knew about the suspension and would punish them.  “My mom is at work,” one of them said, “so she doesn’t know yet.”  It sounded like their plan is to stay away from home as long as possible today to hopefully delay the breaking of the news.

As I talked with the boys, I felt as if I was seeing a scene from this book taking shape right before my eyes.  Last week I had blogged about reading the book, and some of the pages I read yesterday evening pointed to the fact that there are precursors to a student’s dropping out — most often factors that can be observed long before a student reaches high school.  I made a mental list of risk factors as I observed the boys.

  • Held back in school  (CHECK – at least for Joseph)
  • Kicked out when teachers don’t know what to do with them  (CHECK – this was Joseph last school year)
  • Missed a lot of school days (CHECK – suspensions typically result in missed days)

Mentors can make a big difference in a youth’s life; if you are interested in reaching out to these two boys, please contact us. You will be changed, and they will be changed.

*not their real names

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