Back when I was minding the hellspawn, one of the diamonds in the rough was a girl named Magdy. Unlike Dariette (a Daria-like girl, but with Aspergers), I didn’t take an immediate liking to Magdy. But as the days progressed, she became increasingly helpful. She was tough enough not to be intimidated by the other kids, but unlike most of the other tough kids chose – for whatever reason – to be rather helpful to me. Dariette was nice and friendly, but Magdy helped me get control of the classroom to the extent that I did. And when she wasn’t helping me, she was quiet doing her work or her own thing.

Despite my taking a liking to her, I also got the sense that… things are not likely to turn out well for her. Not the least of which because she was in resource/remedial classes. But also because… well, it was just a sense I got from her. She’s not going to college. She probably won’t graduate from high school. She may be a mother before then. I wouldn’t be surprised if she ended up on drugs or in skirmishes with the law. I can’t even explain why I thought these things about a girl who was nothing but helpful to me and by appearances was almost standard (not dressed provocatively, typical hair-care, and wore little or no make-up).

So last week, I was back at the middle school teaching another resource/remedial set of classes. The 8th graders I had this year were the same as the 7th graders I had last year (and a couple 8th graders I had this year were 8th graders from last year, as well). Magdy was among them. And once again, she was just a marvelous student (with bonus points for actually remembering me). Which was odd, because her name was on the list of students to be wary of and for whom there was a specific protocol for misbehavior (never a good sign). I also got a look at her file, which was… not ideal. Some problems in the 7th grade, more in the 8th. But her previously standard appearance had started changing and she has already started the physical (at least) progression to where I think she will end up. Nose ring. Another piercing below her lip. The first day she looked kind of… messy (though less so the second day).

Also, this time around, I got a better idea of where these classes are, scholastically (it’s easier with English and Math than Science and Social Studies), and it was disheartening (a subject for a separate post). None of these kids are going to college – not even community college. The Direct Instruction I ran through was more reminiscent of elementary school than regular middle school. Groans of frustration doing relatively simple mathematical tasks such as counting change (True or False, seven dimes and seven pennies equals seventy cents?), percentages (a pie chart split in six with one of them colored in), and comparatively simple multiplication (24×6). Magdy could do the first but didn’t like it, did well on the second, but struggled on the third.

The kids end up in these classes generally for one of two reasons: they have legitimate developmental problems or they have attitude problems, or both. Magdy seems to fall into the second category, which makes her perhaps the only student who does that I actually took a liking to and wish the best for in more than an abstract wish-the-best-for-everybody sort of way. I’m just hoping it’s not both.

On a sidenote, one of the things that gave me a little hope last year was that she talked about her father during some downtime and said something that suggested that he was a fixture in the household. My expectations for the Magdy-like kids are such that I thought “Well hey, at least she has a father who stuck around!” Well, I came to find out that it was her step-father and she doesn’t know her real dad. There’s still a bright side, I suppose, if there is a stepfather she gets along with well enough to think of him as a father.

Category: School

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