From my hall duty post I can see her come and go. She’s “one who got away” – a student I could not reach, try as I did. I see her saunter to the water fountain, her locker, the bulletin board that displays middle school projects. I ask the same questions each time: “How are you?”, “What are you reading these days?”, and “Where should you be?”. The responses are always the same, shrugs, non-committal smiles, “Nothing much”, “Oh, okay”, “Math/French/English…”.
She makes her way back to class, reluctantly, I have that feeling i the pit of my gut – the feeling that I failed her in sixth grade, that there was something I could have done that I did not do. What did I do?
I chased her down for homework, once running after her on a bright Saturday morning in town, when I thought I could get her to remember to turn in a project for some credit before the last day of school, when I would have to fail her for the marking period…again.
I would not let her leave the classroom for the bathroom/water fountain/locker/ because I knew she would take too long to come back…and miss even more work.
I kept her after school, asked her to come in before school, and met with her parents. Each time I would feel a sense of hope…each time that hope was short-lived.
There was not a book I could find, a writing idea I could dream up, a social studies unit I could launch that would captivate her interest, get her motivated to jump in and try.
A lovely smile, a shrug, the occasional roll of the eyes, and her faraway look that spoke volumes: I am not here, and I don’t want to be here.
These are the ones, the ones that got away, that still keep me up at night. Oh, I do celebrate the others – the ones who are doing amazing things in college, and high school, and life. But the ones who somehow get away…these are the ones I think about, and worry about, the most.