California Educator

November 2012

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AN INVITATION TO 'TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF' STRIKES FEAR IN THE HEARTS OF FOSTER STUDENTS By Sherry Posnick-Goodwin Photos by Scott Buschman Foster children can lose their home, their family and school friends in one evening. All teachers have tools and strategies to help struggling students learn; here, CTA members who work with students in foster care share tips and advice. Gail Johnson talks with Josh Sales at Bakersfield High School. "School may be the most stable place in these foster kids' lives," she says. "IT 'S HARD GOING TO A NEW SCHOOL. You don't know anybody. When teachers say, 'Tell us about yourself, at 20 different schools and in and out of foster care for years. Living in motel rooms and a car since moving from Tennessee with his mother to make a new start, he came to the attention of authorities. He landed in foster care and has not seen his mom in three years. Sales is graduating this story is not like anybody else's." Meet Josh Sales. He's been the "new guy" ' it's scary. Your way, and then you go to another foster home and do something in a completely different way. It's a huge adjustment." It can also be an adjustment for educa- spring, thanks to the Bakers- field High School educators who spent the last two years helping him make up miss- ing credits. He plans to attend college and become an architect. "It's difficult living with different people in foster care," says Sales. "You get close to them, and when you leave, it can get pretty bad. You get used to doing stuff a certain 8 California Educator November 2012 Gail Johnson tors when foster children enroll, whether for brief or extended periods of time. Because they are often victims of pov- erty, neglect, violence and sexual abuse, students can be angry, depressed and lagging behind academically. They often have "gaps" in their edu- cation from moving around so much, and may not receive course credit they have earned. Sales, for example, had to repeat Algebra I because his records were not sent from a previous school. High School from his counselor, the school librarian and a math teacher who bought him new clothes. But at times it feels awkward. "Foster kids don't want special treat- He's received support at Bakersfield

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