She was in my class a year ago and she hated me. I was relieved on those days she didn't bother to show up. She was angry and I never could really find out the source, but she took it out on everyone, including me. She was one of those who was offended by polite questions, requests, and redirection. She only lasted a few weeks before she dropped out of school. I can't say I hated her. I won't lie and say I've never hated a student. I've hated a few. It's a simple fact, one most of us try to pretend is false, that some people are just bad and it starts to show pretty early on. I didn't think she was one of those people. But I was glad when she was gone. I couldn't find a way to break through and show her that I wasn't one of the bad guys in her life and the class was much easier to teach without her. She left, and another girl left, and the class turned into one of my best.
That's why I worried a bit when I saw her name on my roster at the beginning of this year. She showed up that first day, dead-eyed and looking like she would be as unpleasant as ever, but as the days passed I realized that the attitude was gone. Smiles replaced grimaces. An A average replaced the 12 she had the first time around. I actually liked having her in my class. She made me feel like a teacher. My class was her favorite, she said, and I thought maybe I had actually reached a student, helped change their life for the better. She gave me a boost, made me feel like a real teacher, made it easier to come to school each morning.
Only, she stopped coming to school a few weeks back. When she did bother to show up, the good attitude had faded. She now longer took out her bitterness on me. She'd been in class long enough to know that I was one of the good guys. She just didn't care about school anymore. I tried to get her focus back where it should be, but it didn't work. Eventually, she stopped coming at all. I still set her work for her on her desk every day thinking she may come back, but her sister dropped by today to tell me she was probably gone for good.
She wasn't the first kid who convinced me that maybe I could make a difference, who made me temporarily feel like I was doing something worthwhile, but every time I think I may have reached a kid this seems to happen. They go to jail. They just can't hack the stress of school. Their home life just sucks to much. They or parts of their life out of their control always manage to screw things up for them in the end. The only ones I can truly seem to help are the ones who didn't really need it to start with.