California Educator

December 2014

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My first year of teaching sixth grade I was told, "Good luck with that kid." He sure did test me the first couple of months, trying any and every way to get out of doing schoolwork and goof- ing off in class. I had a heart-to-heart with him, and told him I saw something in him. I set up a behavior chart with him and did after-school intervention. Our Title I teacher put him in her reading group. She was resistant at first, but I assured her he was turning his behavior around. By the end of the year, he had pretty good relationships with his peers and the staff. The following year, when the California Standards Test scores were released, he came back to my class out of breath to tell me that he had received a proficient in both English language arts and math. This was a big deal, because previously he had scored below basic! I run into him often. He is an honor roll student and is confident. He un- derstands that when school gets hard, he just needs to work harder. All he needed was for someone to tell him, "You can do it!" JADE MATTHEWS Travis Unified Teachers Association The first day in class, Noreen was part of a raucous group of four students who were enjoyable but disruptive. I did my best Stern Teacher routine to quiet them down, and was surprised at the end of the period to find a note of apology Noreen left on my desk. She subsequently shone brightly in my Ameri- can literature class and served as my TA in her senior year. I have gotten to know her family and have been invited to her church functions over the years. DENNIS KELLY United Educators of San Francisco He was "That Kid." The one in the hall every day, in trouble again, leaning against the lockers, shoulders down. And I thought, "Oh man, I hope I don't get that kid in my class!" Sure enough, his name was on my class list one year. That first day, I stood at the door greeting everyone. Rob walked right up to me and stared into my face defiantly. His first words were, "I prayed all summer I wouldn't be in your class!" You can imagine how taken aback I was. The miracle was that we found we shared a goofy sense of humor. It didn't take long until we bonded. Yes, he was a challenge. But he did not spend one day in that soul-sucking hallway. Fast-forward many years. I was teaching at another school when I looked up and saw Rob, leading a class of first-graders to the library. He had become a teacher! And yes, I had to remind him of that first day of fourth grade. We hugged, and I knew that bond we shared was still there. RUTH McLEAN ELLER Cupertino Education Association He was in my fourth-grade class, on the autism spectrum. He struggled aca- demically and socially. His tender heart and gentle ways bonded us immediate- ly. I would get daily hugs, and our class would do honorary ninja kicks when he had an academic success! In February, my appendix ruptured, and I suffered complications. I was out seven weeks. One evening, I received an email from my student's mom, beg- ging me to call. Since I had been sick, he felt sick and wouldn't go to school. She finally got it out of him that he was afraid I was going to die. I called him immediately and assured him I'd be back with hugs and ninja kicks! Throughout his elementary years he always stopped to give me a daily hug in the hallway. When he went to sixth- grade camp, he told me I wouldn't see him for four days, so he gave me an ex- tra hug for each day to make up for it! He is now successfully attending seventh grade, and I get updates from his younger brother, who is in my class currently. But when he can, he comes by to give me a hug! That's what it's all about — loving these kids! AMY BROWNFIELD Selma Unified Teachers Association R E M E M B E R " T H A T " S T U D E N T who impacted you person- ally? Who surprised and delighted you, and made you proud to be an educator? Perhaps he succeeded against all odds. Perhaps she taught you something. Here are a few tales shared by members. If you'd like to share about "that" student, please email About my student… Know & Tell Student stories 15 V O L U M E 1 9 I S S U E 5

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