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Teacher Helped Student with Family Problems

She Gained a New Family Member

By Movita Utt, St. Paul School, Cana, Virginia

One night in 2004 my son came home from a date very upset. The high school senior he had been out with, a good student all through her school career, had just informed him that she had been withdrawn as a result of numerous absences.

I learned that her mother was terribly ill, and each day the young lady wrestled with the decision of leaving her at home alone. When my son shared this story and told me how upset the young girl was not to graduate in the spring, my heart was broken. During my 23-year teaching career, I had taught this girl and five of her six brothers. 

The next day I called the attendance officer at home and talked with him for nearly an hour. We convinced him that she should be given another chance. The conditions were as follows: she could not miss so much as one hour of school the remainder of the year, she would have to attend summer session to make up all the days she had missed, and I had to commit to seeing that she would be in school each day.

I knew we needed to make some changes in her home life. I met with the girl’s uncle and aunt and they agreed to let her stay with them and see that she got on the bus each morning. I had a temporary custody agreement drawn up and took it to the young girl’s mother. She wept as I explained that her only daughter was trying to graduate and keep alive her hopes of going to college. The mother, knowing that this was the best thing, reluctantly signed the papers.

Today, still driving that same used car that my husband and I co-signed for her to buy, the young woman is a certified pharmacy technician and is on the waiting list for nursing school at a local community college. Best of all, the girl that was once labeled a dropout became my daughter-in-law last fall.