(originally posted 4/27/10)
He was an athlete, a talented one. He had a wise-ass attitude towards most adults, particularly those in authority. He attended school often enough to stay eligible to play sports, but not any more than he needed to. He smoked a lot of pot. He didn’t hand work in on time…when he did it. He was not voted most likely to succeed.
He now owns a highly-successful construction firm. He bought his first house the summer he graduated from high school. He owns a number of rental properties. He stopped smoking pot when he saw how his pot-smoking employees made a mess of things. He often hires men that are on parole or probation and gives them a second chance at life. He is a devoted and responsible dad. I’d say he is a success.
She was the snottiest student most teachers had ever encountered. She had a small but very loyal group of friends. She absolutely refused to work with anyone else…ever. She was condescending. She had a look that could flatten you. She always gave the impression that she was smarter, prettier, better than everyone else….and that you had better treat her that way. She questioned every grade. She quietly insulted people. She was not voted most likely to succeed.
She is now pursuing a Ph.D at one of the most prestigious universities in America. She spends enormous amounts of her spare time advocating for the poor in Rwanda. She travels to Africa and back several times a year, even volunteering to live in huts and use outhouses. She raises money to help young men combat hunger and poor nutrition. She makes presentations in churches and schools about her mission. I’d say that she is a success.
He was a kid who made friends easily. Maybe too easily. It was often difficult for him to be quiet in class when the teacher was speaking. He spent a lot of time checking with his friends to make sure that they were getting the information. He hated to read….in fact, he didn’t really start reading until the summer between third and fourth grade. He got bored easily. He often got in trouble for defending a friend if a teacher was mean or sarcastic. He missed enormous amounts of school when he developed a severe anxiety disorder. He was not even considered likely to succeed.
He is now a prolific reader and owns a library’s worth of books. He’s won awards for playwriting. He’s a sophomore in college majoring in business and creative writing…but he really has the heart of a teacher. He has maintained his friends from high school and has added a new crew as well. He carries a B+ average and has helped several friends get enrolled at the local community college….kids who were told that they would never be “college material.” I’d say that he is a success.
She was raised by a dad who was a drug addict and left to fend for herself even as a preschooler. She was hospitalized for psychiatric treatment in her junior year of high school. She had to redo the entire year. She didn’t have running water. She rarely had new clothes, a real haircut or a vacation. She had few friends in school. She wore caution tape for a belt. She was considered far from likely to succeed.
She is graduating from a top-notch four year college with a double major in psychology and philosophy. She has worked with professors at Brown and Harvard. She works with young women who are trying to get off of the streets. She spent a summer as a camp counselor for young people with a myriad of social and psychological problems. She gave her brother a computer as a high school graduation present. She has been accepted by the University of Edinburgh (in Scotland, among other schools) for a Master’s program in Philosophy. She has an entire group of friends whom she will miss dearly….and will most certainly miss her. I’d say that she is a success.
I could go on and on. One has traveled the world, earned a Master’s degree in Biology, routinely supports family members in need and hopes someday to become an MD. One is working his way through college to earn a degree in Italian. One is a wonderful family man in South Dakota, an active and amazing part of his community. One is a gifted musician, producing her own CD’s, appearing in cafe’s around the city, working with the developmentally disabled and in a loving relationship with a dear man and two miniature dachsunds. One is a loving, hard-working single teen mom working her way through college…..without the help of her mother. One is a soldier stationed in Germany. None of them were considered “a success” in high school. They are all real, wonderful, amazing people.
Don’t let adolescent challenges, armor, attitudes and family situations fool you. What you see is rarely what you get.
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