Tuesday, January 16, 2018


The seventh grader's voice is insistent. "I stay today, Miss. Don't you remember I stay on Fridays?"

I am more than a little surprised. It is true that back in October, at parent teacher conferences, his parents and I agreed that he would stay twice a week for tutoring. And Fridays were supposed to be one of those days.

But he's only actually stayed once. The week after we made the plan. At first I tried to track him down, but then later, I have pretty much just let him go. Tree months later, his mother knows he isn't staying, but that the offer stands.

And today he wants to stay. I wonder why.

He accompanies me to my outdoor duty at the end of the day. I expect he will run off to kick a soccer ball with his friends, but he stays next to me the entire 15 minutes. And again I wonder why.

Afterwards we go back upstairs. We look at an account for a reading app we installed on his phone when he stayed in November. He has used the app to read over 300 pages. He is using it to read the district's required novels, but he is also using it to help him read a James Patterson novel. He likes it, and asks me to download more from the same series. I gladly oblige. We go down the hall to share his good news with some of the other middle school teachers, the principal, and the assistant principal.

He asks if I will call his mom, then his dad, to tell them about his success with the app. I gladly oblige, limping along in my very bad Spanish.

I ask him if he wants to read now. He doesn't. Again I wonder why he wanted to hang out with me on a sunny Friday afternoon.

I ask if he wants to help me change some bulletin board paper. He does. The bulletin boards at my school are all very old, made of plaster. You have to use tape, lots of tape, and pray that the paper will stay. We work for almost half an hour on that project. I dig money out of my purse and buy him a Coke.

Then I go on to do a little book repair. E stays for that project too.

He shows me a fitness app on his phone, and tells me that he is jogging every night, trying to lose a little weight.  I show him my Weight watchers app.

Finally, 90 minutes after school is over, he decides it's time to leave.  I still don't have any idea why he decided to stay and wallow in an old lady reading teacher's ordinariness for an hour and a half on a Friday afternoon.

And maybe it doesn't matter.

I am growing readers.

And all readers grow better with a little extra attention.


elsie said...

Interesting choices he made on this day, but yet they support him. We never know the extent of our reach, but sometimes it's nice to reflect that we do make a difference.

Nanc said...

Relationships matter for sure. Sweet, sweet little story Carol. Missing those days. My favorite is part is when you bought him a Coke. It would make a great Coke ad! xo

Vanessa Vaile said...

at that age there is something very special about an adult someone you are comfortable talking to ~ and he wanted to let you he'd been reading and how much. in a word, wow.