The sixth graders were given bound journals to write in this year. To most of the students I teach (learning disabled or cognitively disabled) writing is something very similar to torture. I would give them the journals and ask them to write something, but most days I heard I don't know what to write or they would just sit there. I explained that journals were personal thoughts and I locked them up every day and promised that no one would read them, and I didn't.
One of my favorite students this year was a boy I had in fifth grade last year. He had a severe reading disability but a lot of leadership potential and he was way ahead of others in terms of maturity. I could glance his way when the others were being obnoxious and he knew how I felt. I knew he did not get much attention at home. He was being raised by a grandmother and no one ever came to school for any reason in the two years I knew him.
Sadly, he left in the spring and moved away without any notice and I did not have a chance to say goodbye.
While cleaning out materials for the end of the year I saw his journal and decided to look at it. I knew there wouldn't be much written and some of it only a teacher of kids with learning disabilities could interpret. This is what he wrote. I've corrected the spelling so it can be understood:
When I was 4 years old my dad had passed. I was upset. My mom was upset. He was gunned down. The man who killed him was in jail for one day. I'm still not the same from the day it happened to this day.
To be honest, there's not a lot of hope for this kid. From the stories I heard, no one pays any attention to where he is or what he does day or night. He had street-smarts way beyond his twelve years. With a murdered father, an elderly woman for a parent and a severe learning disability - what will happen to him? He is now in his fourth school in four years. He'll be tough because he'll have to survive. Last year I talked to him about using his potential to make good choices and stay out of trouble - but is there anyone else in his life to tell him that?