Don’t you Love a Good Story? I Love a Good Story. Sometimes I think about some of the elementary and high school students I had over the years. I wonder where they are now, and what they are doing. Did the student who wanted to be a nurse become a nurse, or the one who wanted to be a designer go to New York and enter design school. Or the boy who wanted to go out on his own go to California and “make it big?” One of my students went off to work for NASA. Yesterday, I thought about the student who had special problem. I wonder what happened to her.
This student, a quiet, sweet female, came to school on an irregular basis. She sat in the back of the room, on the last row and by the door. She would arrive late. Whenever she did attend, I would sit with her and try to catch her up on the assignments she missed and fill her in on the concepts taught in English class. She was very pleasant, and agreeable and she smiled sometimes. I noticed that she wore long sleeves and as we talked she pulled on her sleeves, even though they did not rise up.
To keep her abreast of what we were doing and the papers and assignments that were required, I made copies of the things that she missed and gave her my notes and whatever else she needed. She took everything graciously and thanked me for everything and promised to attend the next session. The next session, I looked for her, but she didn’t come to class. She missed that one, the next and maybe she would attend the next one. Her attendance was spotty for several weeks and my concern prompted me to act. I discussed her with my team teacher who was also worried about her attendance. We checked with her other classes and found that she was also absent from those classes just as often. I checked with the nurse to see if she had a food allergy or anything that would keep her out of school as often as she was out. If there was a problem, maybe she could be put on homebound until her physical health improved. The nurse said that the student was not on any of her lists.
The next time she returned, I noticed her pretty top with three quarter length sleeves. As we talked, I noticed cut marks on both arms. I gave her copies of missed assignments and notes, and tried to catch her up on the latest assignments, but my mind was elsewhere. I told my team teacher what I had seen and that I had to talk to the assistant principal. After talking with him, I went back to the classroom to get the student. She never put up any kind of resistance; she just walked with me to the principal’s office. I asked her to show her arms to him and she pulled up her sleeves and did so. No argument, no hesitation, no, “I didn’t know we were coming here.” or “I don’t have to do anything you say,” or anything of that nature. I can’t tell you how I felt when I saw all those cut marks up and down her arm. I just wanted to take that young lady, give her the biggest hug ever and let her know that those of us in this high school love her and care about her. I had to go back to my next class, so I left her there. In between classes, I went back to check on her, to see what happened to her. Her parents had arrived, but they were all still in the office. The next morning, I raced to school to find out what happened after I left. The assistant principal told me that the reason why they were in his office that long was because the parents didn’t believe that she was a cutter and they would not take her to a hospital where she could get treatment. The assistant principal and to call the authorities on her parents and an ambulance to take the student to a mental health facility of a hospital.
I never saw that girl again. I often wonder what happened to her. Did she find someone to show her that she is loved and cared for? Did she go back to her parents who weren’t able to face the fact that she needed help? Did she gain the confidence in herself that she needed to stand strong? She was a sweet, sweet girl who thought nothing of herself. She could have been hostile with me, pushed the copies, etc, I made for her away and turned her back on me. She never did any of that. She deserved better than the way she treated herself and the way she allowed others to treat her. I wish I could say that this is a Good Story. I hope that what happened to her ended in a Good Story.
I ask everyone reading this to find it in your heart to look around you and help those you know or suspect need help. In this time when people are denying another human being an opportunity and separating families, and retaliating by doing the same thing, we need to remember that we are all human beings. We need to remember to love one another.