Wednesday, July 4, 2007

when worlds collide

Things have been really busy lately!

June 22nd: Millerton Trip! We swam, we ran, we ate Wendy's, we had fun! Combination water polo/triathlon practice.
June 23rd - the Valley Teen Ranch/PAL Fun Run!: Talk about my worlds colliding! I worked for Valley Teen Ranch (a group home for teenage felony offenders) from '05-'06, after college and while student teaching. I've stayed involved every so often being able to substitute, and tried to get them involved in the Triathlon Team, but it was too much work logistically. Anyway, so they were running there with a team of 7 kids that I brought too, and it was pretty cool to hear them all call me, "Mr. D______," and my students calling me a mix of Mr. and Coach. And the VTR staff that I knew calling me Brandon. It was really cool, I was happy with my 4 mile time of 29 minutes. (so a bit over a 7 minute mile). Afterward we all also got free wienerschnitzel meal vouchers so pigged out on chili dogs and drank mountain dew.

June 25th: Had a meeting with a local development group that might want to give us $! We'll get word in 2 weeks.

The teaching and coaching part! : Several students in summer school are also now on my triathlon or water polo teams. One, we'll call him "Jose", really turned himself around since joining the triathlon team in February. I have worked on this kid for probably hundreds of hours - either praying for him, doing stuff behind the scenes for him/talking to teachers, and the actual helping him with his sports and schoolwork. I was so proud of him just last wekeend, when he realized he was failing hte summer school class, he called me to check his answers. normally i'd think that was odd, but I thought it was great that he would do that and he even was getting most of the answers correct!

But his behavior in class was not good. Last Tuesday he and a friend were messing around, and Jose's cell phone rang. I took it away. It rang again and I answered it, as I threaten to do andn oftne will answer student cell phones in class. A deep voice said, "this is Angel's mom," and a group of guys not more than six feet away from me started laughing. It was, "Allen," another new triathlon recruit of the past month (I had his brother in class last year though.) Well of course I couldn't stand for that, so sent them both to the summer school principal's office. The idea in SS is that you get one office visit, then gone. Jose was upset when he came back, but stayed after school with some other students just to do their homework in the classroom. I was impressed.

But two days later, he was making inappropriate comments about sexual functions (not the math kind of functions... wow so sad that i even notice that!), so I sent him outside and told him to watch it, that I really would kick him out at this point for inappropriate behavior. Well, about 2 hours later (summer school is a LONG 5 hours) he said something racist in front of the class. So I quietly called the office and informed him he was dropped. The other athlete kids in the class were shocked and told me things like, "oh, he's never gonna talk to you again!" and even though I knew I was being fair, kinda got to worrying too! After all, I really do care about this kid! This was the kid that I'd even grounded(took away cell phone, didn't let him compete in a race) before, after about a half hour consultation with his mom and stuff in April. He gave a speech in his english class about how the triathlon was the best thing he'd ever done. He has told me the triathlon has changed his life perspective much for the better, and has remarked when we see gang bangers/members on the streets, "that would be me without triathlon," - and I got him enrolled in the Mayors Gang Prevention Initiative, which provides family counseling and extra services when he needs them next year. I didn't want to lose that either.

But, sure enough after school he came back and asked if he could still be on the triathlon and water polo teams. I said yes, and started to say something like(note: I did not say or mean 'sorry'), "kicking you out wasn't personal, I did what I had to do," and he responded that I didn't have to explain, that he knew why he got kicked out. That definitely shoes maturity I honestly don't think he had six months ago. Part of it is he's turning 15 in a few months (2 days before my birthday, he is fond of pointing out.) and I noticed when looking at pictures recently has really matured physically recently. He's bigger and getting bulkier (working out will do that to you too!). So this truly was a success story so far still... although I feel more than ever the weight of responsibility and the opportunity for his school life. He recently told me after I mentioned how cool graduation was that he wanted me to hand him the diploma at graduation (some of the other triathlete/water polo kids I've got strong bonds with agreed). I told him that if he keeps working and maturing like he has the past few months, I'll find a way to make it work.

Another needy kid in my summer school class started practicing with us in the past week or two. His "mom" (we'll leave it at that) is very protective and he struggles with anger (gets picked on), immaturity (talks a lot about nothing sometimes... just happy to have people to listen to him I think!) and is smart but doesn't always do homework. I called him every day for 3 days in a row to make sure he does it and now hasn't missed an assignment in two weeks. I give at least 30 minutes to an hour of homework every day, including weekend. So it's starting to work... his mom called me this morning to let me know he's run away for a bit - got mad at her and left. Came back about an hour ago, but now he can't go on the camping trip we've been planning for weeks this coming weekend and he was really looking forward to. Bummer. But I'll do my best to keep him involved in stuff with the appropriate consequences.

Wow, how's that for a post about teaching and coaching?
- we'll be competing in the TBF Racing Tri for Fun and Tri for Real Triathlons next weekend. Should have about 6 kids and two adult leaders going up. Good stuff. our first triathlon since April 31st.

1 comment:

mathnerd said...

busy are (or were) we? Sounds like you have had a full summer so far! Summer school for me is definitly an eye opener. Mainly the few kids who can't even add. How can they make it to 7th grade without the knowledge of adding! Geez! So what's an aquathlon? Have a great rest of the summer, are you ready for Aug 20th? Thats when we start too, and I am really excited!