Thursday, July 06, 2006

Evan's Story Part 7: School


I sent you his grades with his report. You will probably get them today. You will see that he has an F in Political Philosophy. Mr. H has a policy of not giving F's in his class (as final grades) to students who do all the work and have no unexcused absences. So if Evan tells you he has a "D" that is why. Mr. H perspective on this class is considered advanced placement and A's are 5.0. B's are 4.0's, so F's are passes -- as long as the kid has been trying.

Evan seems to be showing his typical behavior in this class. He did really well when he was interested in the material, but when they started reading boring things like the Federalist Papers he just cannot make himself concentrate on it. When I asked him if his grade reflected his performance on reading quizzes he said yes, but then he also started talking about how frustrating he found the teacher. Notice however that he has the same teacher for Economics where he is doing quite well.

We talked about it briefly on Friday. He said that he was looking forward to college where it would be better. I hesitated and then said, "Evan, I don't know if I should tell you this, but college will be exactly like your Political Philosophy class. There will be readings that you are excited by and readings that you are bored to tears by. You will get along with some of the professors and others will irritate you beyond belief."
"Well, I know that. I just know that college is not going to be like Mr. H's philosophy class." (By the way -- the two quotes above are a summary of a short conversation -- neither of us said exactly that.)

And speaking of college -- we are taking Andrew to visit at least a couple of colleges on Spring Break and of course Evan is invited. Evan is interested in visiting a university north of here. I had originally planned on taking Andrew to one liberal arts college and one state university. I will take them both to the college fair in The City on the 11th, and then later we will make definite plans.

Evan is still not looking for work. I have suggested that maybe he really should start to put some effort there, and he agrees, but no action.

He left a message with the portrait studio. I am hoping that they call him back and tell him whether they can get a photo done in time for the year book. I suspect they cannot, but if they just tell him that he will have time to figure out a substitute. He can get good senior portraits for himself and give the yearbook a different picture.

Evan is beginning to express perfectly normal levels of frustration with Brian and even Andrew to a degree. I talked to him about talking to them, not me, about it. He was not certain about it -- but last night he and Brian had an argument about the frosted flakes -- "Brian you ate almost the whole box in a day!" (Evan brings the box to me in the living room "Look! It is almost all gone." "Yep." I go back to my book and Evan leaves after a minute. "Evan! Give me back the box, I am not finished!" "No. I am getting a bowl first." "MOM! Evan won't give me the cereal." (Silence from me.) "Brian, I am NOT giving it back. I am going to have one bowl and then you can have what is left." "Just don't take it all!" Sighing, "I'm not."

So I regard this as a small step forward in family dynamics. They are beginning to quarrel -- and resolve issues.

Evan was in tears yesterday evening. He is having a difficult time with Mr. H.
I am trying to create a picture based upon what he has told me...

What Evan says is that Mr. H has put the classes into groups. He explains a concept to the whole class and then expects the ones who do understand it to explain it to those who don't. Evan is doing well in economics, but the other people in his group are not. Mr. H said something to Evan (I don't know what) indicating that Evan was not doing his job. Mr. H and Evan apparently got into an argument in front of the entire class about whose responsibility it was. At some point Mr. H had asked him a question and other students were saying to Evan, "Just say 'yes'." At the end of this Mr. H said, "Well, I guess I have to have a few students every semester to keep my life interesting. I have XX in second period and you here. The difference Evan is that you are not witty."

Evan got friends to take him home. He was upset about that and said that he feels like he is just not fitting in there. He has not made real friends. He is generally miserable.

Apparently he called his special ed teacher from City High. She had called him a week or so ago to see how he was doing. The discussed the possibility that he go back to the original plan -- take the bus to The City and attend City High. According to him, she said all he needs to do is to show up and she will take care of everything else -- get him registered, etc. I think she may be mistaken, or else Evan may be confused. She may not know that Evan is not taking Government, or she may know and expect that Evan will take both semesters in the spring (if that is possible).

In re-reading this email I notice things that I did not notice before. I don't know who the friends are who gave him a ride home. Maybe it was completely innocent. Maybe it was just a ride. I learned alter though that most of the time the person who gave him rides home was his drug dealer.

All I thought was going on was a stressed out kid who was having troubles at school. I have many emails about school. I think the teacher at City High did not trust Our Small Town High to take good care of Evan. She was trying to help him by offering to do everything she could to get him back. No body else thought it was a good idea thoug.

So I am trying to think myself through this...what are my objections?
1. Evan should learn to stick with something even if doesn't like it. --Well, yes. Will getting in his way on this teach him that? I told myself after David that I was not going to try to make character changes in the kids I care for. The only thing I ever accomplish is giving myself a headache.

2. I am worried that if Evan is putting in eleven hour days he will not get a job. --Maybe that can be dealt with. Maybe this teacher who is working so hard to get Evan back can find him a job after school in The City. Of course there is no guarantee that keeping him here will result in him getting a job. I have a HORRIBLE track record on the subject of jobs. None of my kids has been successful in that area. Do you have a training on that? What am I doing wrong? Or is it just the kids that I happen to get?

3. I am worried that I will loose him. That the same thing will happen that will happen with David. This might be my biggest worry. I don't mean that I think it is objectively the biggest concern; I mean that I feel the most emotional when I think about it. I don't want to go through that again. It hurt. I am not up for a repeat performance. I did talk to Evan about this and he assures me that he wants to live here until he graduates. This is my problem, of course. It is my fear and my anxiety. It is not a good reason for Evan not to do something if it is objectively a good idea.

4. I am afraid that I will end up coerced into driving to The City all the time. When he is at the maximum number of absences and has missed the bus will I really say, "Sorry kid. I am not driving you." If I do drive him, how many times will I end up doing that? He is already at the maximum number of absences for some classes. (David was told that he could not transfer because he had too many absences. How do they calculate that? Is it per class there too? If he has too many in Political Philosophy will that not matter because he won't be taking political philosophy?) If he is going to school in The City how often will he call to say that there is something really important that is going on and he has to stay so can I pick him up at 7:00? --It is more difficult for me to answer this objection. I feel like it is telling a kid, "Sure you can have a puppy -- but you have to feed it and walk it" knowing all along that you are going to end up feeding it. I guess I want to say I am really not giving him rides in the morning -- even if that means he does not get credit for his courses. He is 18 and if he is going to do this then he has to deal with the consequences.

5. What really is best for Evan? Putting everything else aside I think he is more likely to graduate if he is working with his previous teacher at City High. If everything else could work out, then it would be good for him.

I ran into one of my former students who had classes from Mr. H when she was at Our Small Town High. I told her what Evan had said happened. She attends the same church with him now and knows how he can sometimes be. She recommended that I not confront him about what he said to Evan. Instead I should send him an email, and gave me advice on exactly how to word it.

She said that that would probably make him treat Evan better. I told Evan that – and that I would do it. He seemed pleased and asked me if I would help him with his paper on federalism this weekend. I said I would.

Evan's Story Part 1: The Beginning
Evan's Story Part 8: School continued

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