Tuesday, February 7, 2017


I met him when he came to our school last year.

He was a fourth grader transferring from a neighboring school. Happy. Busy. Personable. One of those kids who was capable of absolutely terrific work, which he sometimes did, and sometimes didn't do, depending on whatever particular projects he had pending.

And he always had projects pending. A superhero to draw. A question to research. An origami project to create. Those independent projects truly were his top priority.

I saw a similar kid when he started fifth grade. He always did terrific thinking. Devoured books voraciously. Sometimes wrote well. If he didn't have something more interesting going on.

But there were always projects. Most recently, it was fancy paper airplanes. He and all his buddies dug through the recycle bins for paper. Or begged it off of unsuspecting teachers (not to mention any names). He folded plane after plane after plane. Taught all of the other fifth graders to fold them. For a couple of weeks before winter break, plane flying replaced soccer during lunch recess.

And then after Christmas a different kid came back to school.

Quiet. Distant. Blatantly refusing to follow directions. Accomplishing nothing.

I tried to talk to him. No response.  I called his mom. He told me that got him in trouble, which wasn't my intent at all. I just wanted his mom to know I was worried about him. I missed his projects.

Finally he talked to his teacher. His dog died over Christmas break. Things are never going to get better. He is always going to be like this.

His teacher talked to him. Talked to his parents. They were surprised. Thought he was ok.  He wasn't.

Our principal, a total dog lover, talked to him. Still not ok.

Yesterday, he made it down to the principal's office again. She was in the assistant principal's office with another student, and I talked to him again. Told him about losing my mom's dog, Boo, in October and how sad that made me feel. Reminded him of Jack in LOVE THAT DOG,  a book he had read in fourth grade. Offered him a journal I had in my desk. Asked if he wanted to talk to our school psychologist.


Not a glimmer of that smart, question asking, project planning kid I know.

I really miss that kid.

I hope he finds his way back to us soon.


Jennifer Laffin said...

It is so heartbreaking when we see our kids struggle and there's no way we can bring them any light. Keep trying -- he may not show it, but he hears you.

elsie said...

I hope he finds a way to deal with his sadness. What a loss for him and the world around him.

Molly said...

It took Jack time to come back too. Hang in there and don't give up on him.

Leigh Anne Eck said...

Isn't it something when we know something is wrong with one of our students. I hope you find him again...soon!

Ramona said...

Would he respond to Cynthia Rylan's book, Dog Heaven? A friend gave me Cat Heaven when our dear friend, Hadley, died after spending 17 years as part of our family. Hope he finds his way back to those projects soon and a measure of understanding.