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December 2, 2011

Photo by Laura Slotkoff

By Audrey Davidson, Corps Member Proudly Serving at Reed Elementary School

Yesterday one of my students told me that he would remember me if he was ever successful in life. Afterward, he quickly averted his eyes, grinned, and said, “or maybe I won’t.”

“Either way, I will always remember you,” I replied, knowing we both meant it. 

He’s one of those students who can never sit still or stop talking because of his extreme ADHD. He is constantly in trouble, sometimes because he did something wrong, but often because he’s a usual suspect for teachers incapable of seeing everything. He frequently asks me to take him to the Behavior Intervention room, which is a room students are sent to when their behavior prevents them from participating in class, because he knows he’ll get in trouble if he stays in class. 

I am one of the few adults in the school who has the time to listen to him. He told me that one of the reasons he acts up so often and doesn’t do his work—in spite of how easy he finds it—is that he’s unhappy at this school. Last year he went to a school he did like, but was expelled for a bad decision he made.

I asked him if he learned from this experience, and he said, “Yes, everyday I wish I wouldn’t have done it. But it’s too late now.”

“It’s not too late,” I said, “By not doing your work, you are only hurting yourself. You need to do well in school now, in order to get into a good high school and then a good college. You have the power to change your circumstances.”

“I wish God had made me different and someone else could be like me. I can’t help that I have these problems. There’s something wrong with my brain.”

I told him that he doesn’t know what it’s like to be anyone else but himself and that he can never know what other people are going through. I shared my struggles with manic depression and explained that part of growing up is learning to control the things that appear uncontrollable. He looked at me with new respect then and I realized that this was what I wanted to do with my life—listen to troubled kids, not teach them.



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