Scary Sprites (and Something Else)

Another teacher at our school is organizing an awesome writer’s workshop for teachers at our school over the summer. Here’s what I’ve written so far:

Sam’s[1] first day at school is my first day at school and it’s hard to say who is more confused. I ask my advisory[2] to fill out a “Get To Know Me” sheet. 18 sets of blank eyes stare back at me, including Sam.

We ride the bus back from Target. I talk with Sam and another advisee (probably in Spanish) about speaking Mam[3]. Sam speaks it, the other advisee, Grace (also from Guatemala), does not. I don’t fully understand what this means.

I make my advisory, The (one time) Crazy Ghosts, tell me their favorite song in hopes of making an advisory playlist (This doesn’t happen). Sam’s favorite song (at the time) is “Scary Sprites and (something else)” by Skrillex. In what will be the first of many “I Am Old” moments, I recognize the name Skrillex but am unsure whether it is a person or a band. I make a mental note to Google it later. (Update: Skrillex is a man)

Many times, Sam wanders into my classroom a few minutes before first period and helps to take down chairs. When you’re new, being early to first period is probably better than being alone.

At some point, Sam stops coming to school. I call home, but am only able to reach Mom a few times and with limited results. I see his name on a Wellness[4] referral. I leave a folder for him during Portfolios, which remains empty.

We switch the order of our classes at the semester. Sam’s first period (my class) becomes his last period and vice versa. At some point (March? April?), after many months away, Sam randomly wanders back into my class. Cristina, who was in Sam’s class (originally first period, now last period), but switched back to first period, recognizes him. “What are you doing here, maje[5]?” (I’m pretty sure she says it all in Spanish, despite being one of the better English speakers in the class) I send Sam to English class, not thinking to check in with him. I ask him how he’s doing at the end of the day. He says “fine”. I don’t see him again for a month.

3 of my advisees, including Sam, get SARBed[6].

We plan an SST[7] for Sam. I call Mom. No one picks up. We hold the SST anyway.

I’m in the office during prep (probably forgot to take attendance again) and I see Sam and his mom. I crouch by his chair and ask how he’s doing. He says he’s moved. I write down Sam’s address and phone number (I later find out that I accidentally wrote Sam’s number under another advisee’s name. Oops). Sam asks someone in the office, in English, if his mom can go home. They don’t hear him so he asks again in Spanish.

A few days before the school year starts, I see Sam’s name on my advisory list, but not my class list. He gets transferred to another advisory where there is another Mam speaker. I go to give his Portfolio to his new advisor, except that there’s nothing to give.

Sam comes back on the first day of school. He looks happy. I grab him outside class and write down his actual phone number.

Sam walks into my classroom, most likely stalling on his way to actual class. Another student jokes with him about something inappropriately adolescent. They leave to go to actual class.

Another teacher and I talk with Sam about being 18 and whether he’ll be back in school next year. We push for him to come back.

I hear another teacher pull Sam aside for ridiculousness in the halls (my words, not theirs). I wonder if this is a phase that he was supposed to go through last year. I hope he grows out of it quick.

The other team calls a flock of students, including Sam, to the stage during the end of year assembly. The other students walk up. I don’t see Sam. I worry that he’s stopped coming to school again. The other team reads Sam’s achievements and calls his name again. Heads turn. Sam walks down the aisle quickly. I think I see a sheepish grin on his face. I chide myself for doubting him.

[1] Not their real name. Obvio.

[2] The 18 students that I am responsible for supporting socioemotionally. Like a homeroom.

[3] A Guatemalan indigenous language.

[4] Students can be referred to the school Wellness center for a wide rage of health-related issue. All public high schools in our district have them.

[5] Vaguely Salvadorean for “dude”.

[6] Students who are truant are referred to the Student Attendance Review Board (SARB). This is an intervention along the spectrum of truancy intervention.

[7] Student Success Team (meeting). The student, teachers and other people who care about the student talk about how best to support the student.

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