At the beginning of this school year I volunteered to be a literacy tutor at the high school. It is part of a pilot program that re-teaches literacy skills one-on-one using a proven method called The Barton System. I went through a few training sessions and some DVD’s and I was ready to meet my student.
My student is a male, seventeen year old, with a literacy level of a first grader. How could this happen?! This student is now a Junior in high school and CAN’T READ! I don’t think there is any dyslexia involved but I’m not sure. The more I learn about him, the more hopeless it all seems to me. He has a full time job. He is chronically tired, ill, and underfed. It seems like he has no academic support at home and that education is not valued by anyone in his family. In fact, I think there is a general attitude that school is the enemy.
It all came to a head last week when he showed up thirty minutes late. He overslept. When he sarcastically told me he was sorry, I lost it and laid in on him. I wanted him to understand how important it was for him to learn how to read and how it would impact his entire life if he threw this chance away. I might as well have been talking to myself because he didn’t want to hear any of it. He just got really angry and shut down.
Since then, we’ve met twice and the animosity in the air is off the charts. He’s cooperating but it’s apparent he hates me. It’s been hard enough to carve this time out to go over to the high school three times a week and keep up with my work, kids, and other volunteering. Why should I do it if 1) he has no interest in learning how to read, 2) he thinks I’m the Wicked Witch?
I am so mad right now! What kind of parents does he have that don’t make sure he’s fed, well rested, and are constantly fighting with the very people who are trying to help their son? What kind of school system keeps promoting a kid to the next grade without addressing this serious problem? How many more of these kids are out there?
The whole situation is making me very, very sad…….