The holiday season is known for family gatherings, rich traditions, and of course, delicious food. I knew that I would find myself at the dinner table at some point, and inevitably, I knew that the conversation would lead into my classroom. It didn’t take long before someone asked for an update on how my students were doing. My stories carried us through dessert and coffee and beyond.

In the last month…

Felicia was suspended off the bus for yelling curse words and making obscene gestures at male students (which was her third major bus incident this year). She denied the accusations and said that we should watch the footage from the bus camera if we didn’t believe her. Our administration was more than happy to do that, then proceeded to show the footage to Felicia. She walked back into the classroom speechless, her head down and shoulders sagging. It was the most disheartened that I have ever seen her look. She started crying and said, “Mr. Morrow, when they showed me how I acted and the things I said, it made me hate myself. It made me wish I was never born.” She claimed that she had no recollection of anything that she had said or done, which is why she was so shocked when she saw the video.

Gabriella was hospitalized for a week because she started having severe seizures. She had several tests done to try and figure out why the seizures were occurring, but all of the results were inconclusive. Felicia was adamant that Gabriella’s mom was pulling her out of school in order to homeschool her. I told Felicia that many parents say they want to homeschool, but they don’t adequately know what goes into it, so they usually back out. Felicia said that I was wrong. I told her that we would see what happens. Gabriella was back at school the following Monday.

Carlos didn’t show up for school one morning because he had been arrested the night before (according to, you guessed it, the town informant, Felicia). Later that day, he arrived at school with his mother, who told us what happened. Carlos didn’t have a ride home from school the day before, so he started walking home. A friend picked him up on the side of the road, and they went to hang out at his friend’s house. When it got dark, Carlos started walking home, but instead of going to his own house, he went to Felicia’s house because it was closer (and Felicia’s dad is “dating” Carlos’s mom, if you remember). When Carlos didn’t show up at his house when he was supposed to, his mom filed a missing person’s report with the police. They all went out searching for Carlos and found him at Felicia’s house alone, asleep on the couch with the dog. When the police tried to talk to him about what he could learn from the incident, he smarted off to the officers. Sure enough, they had hauled him away and locked him up to teach him a lesson about respecting authority.

Davion was suspended because he made sexual comments about my wife (as well as used inappropriate language, refused to complete assignments, antagonized classmates, instigated arguments, and defied authority when held accountable for his actions). And he said that was he done getting into trouble…

Ashton returned from being in juvenile detention for a week only to get suspended two days later because he refused to abide by the rules and procedures of our classroom.

Cody got himself into trouble in history class one day because he wasn’t taking notes properly. I told him that his notes looked like chicken scratch and that he needed to do them over. He replied, “F*ck you.” We had a nice little chat after that one.

Adrian’s rap sheet grew extensively, which makes for a blog entry of its own. More to come on that…

Khianna was our ray of hope. She had insisted that she was getting her act together and that she would earn her way back into the regular classroom…and she was right. Khianna’s behavior was flawless in our class, and for her efforts, our principal rewarded her with an early Christmas present. She is the first student this year that has been placed back in the classroom full time, and it was well-deserved.

When you ask me how my students have been, I’ll give you an honest answer. It’s not always lighthearted dinner talk, but it will definitely keep the conversation going!

I hope all of you have blessed conversations around the dinner table this holiday season.

-WMM

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