February 27th- Center
I work in a Career Center at a high school. I am a Career Development Coordinator. I help students figure out what they want to do “when they grow up”. I work in a system where a lot of the students are at risk. What is at risk? At risk for dropping out of school. At risk of not meeting grade level proficiency. At risk of becoming pregnant, joining a gang, going to jail. Maybe. Maybe not. At risk means a lot of different things.
I believe all students have the potential to be successful. In my job, I try to match students interests with potential career opportunities. I provide students with work based learning opportunities -apprenticeships, internships, job shadowing, volunteer work, etc. I love my job, and I love the kids I serve. But, over the past 9 years I have worked with students that have dealt with things that they never should have had to at 15 years old.
One student in particular will always have a special place in my heart. She was a special child. She lived in a broken home. When I first met her she was living with her mom, but that changed. This student, lets call her A, was taken from her mom’s home and moved to her Dad’s house because her mom was living with an abusive boyfriend. Mom chose the boyfriend over her daughter. Unfortunately, things didn’t get any better at her Dad’s. At her dad’s she didn’t have electricity. Or food. Or hot water to take a bath. She didn’t have clean socks or underwear and wore the same dirty jeans every day. I was able to get her food and clothes. New underwear and bras and socks and new jeans and shirts, everything. She couldn’t wash her clothes at home, so she brought them to school for me to wash. We had a plan. Her bus driver would bring me the clothes in the morning and I would give them back to the bus driver in the afternoons. Not too long after she received her new clothes she came to me. She told me that her dad sold her new clothes…for drugs. He sold the food stamps…for money to buy drugs. She was hungry.
A would miss school every now and then. When she came back after being absent I would ask her why she was absent. She would tell me that she had to stay home to watch her 1-year-old brother. If she didn’t stay home, the 1 year old wouldn’t have anyone to watch him because his mom and dad were too busy doing drugs. This was her half-brother from her dad and his girlfriend. The girlfriend wasnt very nice.
A came and sat with me a lot during her lunch. I kept macaroni and cheese and fruit in my office for her. I bought her deodorant and face wash. She had acne from bring malnourished. She was so thin. I cried a lot after our visits. I wanted her to know how special she was but I didn’t want her to think I felt sorry for her…but I did. I would have moved her into my house, but my husband said we just couldn’t do that.
A was not a troublemaker. She didn’t act out in school. She was quiet. She was smart. She was kind. She was one of the kids who could easily fall through the cracks and she did in a lot of her classes. Her teachers had no idea what her story was. They didn’t know that nobody took care of her or that she took care of herself and all of her younger siblings.
A graduated from high school with a B average. She told me after she graduated that I was more like a mom to her than her real mom was. We’ve kept in touch since she graduated a few years ago. She needed a car to get to work, so I gave her my old car so she could go to work. It made me happy that we were able to help her. She is still such a good kid.
The Career Center is more than a place where kids can learn about their careers. Relationships are built in my office. I’m passionate about my job and helping students see their potential. God has put me in my position to help share His love with students…at risk or not.There are so many kids like A. It’s heartbreaking and inspirational all at the same time.