I believe that people stick with us long after our paths have crossed and we don’t even realize it. Spring 2003 I was a seventeen year old high school senior whose concerns consisted of college applications, catching the latest episodes of Dawson’s Creek and enjoying my friends to the fullest.
Weekday mornings I interned in a seventh grade math class under the guidance of Gwenth Linder. Mrs. Linder was a no nonsense teacher who ruled with an iron fist. That semester Mrs. Linder handed over to me her new, yet already declared “bad egg” student, George. The Department of Children and Family services had recently placed George in the custody of his grandparents which took him from the life he once knew with his mother and siblings. I knew George was special from the first moment we were introduced.
Through the latest updates from my students and the few words George shared with me I concluded that George was the one that everyone automatically pointed their fingers at when something went wrong. The burden of proof never weighed on anyone it was always just simple to say, “George did it!” Like other hardships in his life George took on his role as the ‘bad egg’ like a cross the he and he alone had to bare. His teachers took zero interest in him, so I did. I could tell that at the age of thirteen he felt he would constantly have to prove himself and more times then not people would work against him and not for him. I wasn’t sure what me and all my seventeen years of wisdom could do but I knew I had to try.
Every morning while Ms. Linder and the rest of the class went over homework and then continued on to the day’s lesson, George and I had our time. We sat in the back of the class room and worked on basic algebra while every once and awhile I peppered him with questions in hopes of seeing just how this sad thirteen year old envisioned himself. There was never a spark in George’s eyes or a since of excitement for the things around him. Then one more morning it happened; I saw that spark!
George and I made a deal, if he could get a 70 or better on his homework assignment then I would buy him his favorite candy bar. After school I rushed over to the convenient store to purchase George’s Mr. Good Bar because I knew he wouldn’t disappoint so I didn’t want to either. I moved with excitement throughout the rest of the day in anticipation of George’s redeeming moment. I awoke at 5:30 am the following morning to find myself sweating profusely from the flu. “Oh, no!” I thought to myself. I had to get up and make it over to the middle school to support George. Seeing that I was more than sick Mrs. Linder forced me to sit in the back of the room while the class checked their homework. At the end I heard a call from across the room, “Hey, Ms. Everette I got a 72!” George had done it! He shot for a goal and achieved it and I was there to see it! Brimming with excitement I have George a thumbs up and a “way to go George!” The class chuckled but he didn’t care. I think his heart was too full with pride and his pockets to full with chocolate to care!
Our victorious moment was short lived. The following week George was accused of setting a fire cracker off on the school bus. Without proof he was immediately suspended then placed in Alternative School for the rest of the school year. I never saw George again. I was later told that George really didn’t set the fire cracker another student did but it was too late to do anything and I was advised better to not ‘rock-the-boat,’ so I didn’t!
I thought for awhile I had failed George but then I realized that I was in no position to do anything more than what I had already done. I had faith him and came threw on my promises. Even if it was for a moment he knew someone believed in him!
I believe that people stick with us long after our paths have crossed and we don’t even realize it because George has always stuck with me!