In case you just recently tuned in to our journey, here’s a short recap: Khianna, Felicia, Gabriella, and Carlos have all been released back into the wild, leaving Cody, Davion, Adrian, and Ashton to roam the confines of our classroom.

Here’s how they each survived this past week:

Cody: I wasn’t sure if he would like the new shirt and shoes that my wife and I bought him for his birthday, but it didn’t take long to find out. The following morning, Cody showed up to school with his Nike shirt on and his light-up shoes highlighting the hallway. To match his new gear, he also earned back two more classes. Needless to say, he was walking on air the entire week.

Davion: The same couldn’t be said for Davion. After already struggling with his attitude, work ethic, and disrespect, Davion decided it would be a great idea to make a sexual comment about my wife. Things didn’t work out too well for him.

Adrian: After his minor meltdown (Day 107—Like a Box of Chocolates), I wasn’t sure what to expect from Adrian going into the week. But to my utter shock, he had an excellent week. There were no major issues, no outbursts, no suspensions, no defiance, and very little off-task behavior. It was dumbfounding…until I called Adrian’s dad, that is. He said that he had made a deal with Adrian that if he did not get into any trouble at school, then at the end of the week he would take Adrian to play paintball, buy new shoes, and get his hair braided. (It’s amazing how well kids can behave when something is on the line—even kids who display psychotic tendencies.)

Ashton: Ashton has somewhat flown under the radar since his last suspension. He has shown signs of improvement, such as graduating from his drug class (even though he claims he smoked weed two days before his last drug test so he doesn’t know how he passed it). He still tends to do just enough to get by, which we let him know will not earn him back any privileges. So we will see if he improves his nonchalant attitude toward authority and lazy work habits.

But those four didn’t have time to graze for long before I got the call that a fifth student was being added to our class.

His name is Matthew. My first impression? He has a severe speech impediment, wears far too much cologne, wears a headband to hold back his hair (even though his hair is short), tries to sag his pants to his knees, and thinks he is God’s gift to women. Oh, and he has anger issues, which I guess is the real reason he was placed in our classroom. I was informed that he has been arrested several times for various acts of violence, which has put him behind bars on more than one occasion.

Our first day together went smooth enough, minus a minor hiccup. When Matthew returned from PE, the knuckles on his right hand were swollen and already turning black and blue. All it took was me raising my eyebrows in confusion for Matthew to start explaining. Apparently, when he saw his girlfriend in the hallway, she ignored him and continued talking to her friends. So on the way back to our classroom, he took his anger out on the cinder block wall.

He then proceeded to tell me that he was in anger management but that he didn’t really need it. I bluntly asked, “Well, were you mad when you punched the wall?” He said that, yes, he was mad. I responded, “Well, okay then.” He offered a “Okay, yeah, good point” kind of head nod and started laughing. We have some work to do there.

If Cody was the buffalo, and Davion the elephant, and Adrian the lion, and Ashton the leopard, then Matthew would certainly be the rhino. He seems to be a relatively peaceful creature. But once he charges, watch out.

-WMM

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