Back in October, I told you about Frank.
Here is a brief update.
Just before Christmas break, while keeping the peace at afternoon bus duty, I watched as a girl teased Frank about taking his books home. He had a pair of heavy textbooks under his arm as he jumped up into the bus and she had noticed this strange anomaly.
He shrugged, smiled sheepishly, and disappeared into the bus.
I was smiling too.
A few days later, Frank caught me in the hall and told me he had made the A/B honor roll for that 9 week grading period.
I slapped him on the back with a big "Congratulations!" and you could tell he was proud.
Now, if this were fiction, our story might continue along this vein, happy progress by a needy kid and a concerned adult.
Life is nonfiction however.
Over the Christmas break, a schedule change occurred... one directly linked to the global economic crisis.
The chain of events ... massive global economic slowdown ...national economic crisis ... state economic crisis ... state budget cuts in education ... school districts suddenly forced to cut costs ... all the way down to Frank.
For years, our county offered a stipend (supplemental pay) to teachers who forgo a planning period and take on an extra class.
Due to the budget crunch, this stipend was cancelled for the second half of the year, even though the county had a good faith agreement to pay this for the length of the course. A science teacher at our school had his supplement revoked and exercised his right to say, "Well, if you are going back on the agreement, I am too" ... and he refused to keep teaching the extra class.
The day before Christmas break, I was told, " We're taking your 4th period 7th grade class and shipping them out to other classes to absorb. You will be getting Mr. C's Environmental Science class during that time, as he is refusing to keep 6 classes without the supplement."
Are you following this? Due to a global economic shutdown, my small 4th period class of needy 7th grade students, who I had spent 4 months building a good rapport with, were taken from me.
Frank was one of those.
Frank went to a different science teacher.
The schedule change had really overloaded this teacher's classroom as he absorbed my students, so when Frank approached me about coming back to a different 7th grade class (I still had 2 on my schedule) I knew the other teacher would be agreeable to a move.
To make a long story short, Frank is back in one of my classes, but it is the advanced class and he landed in there near the end of a unit on genetics ... so I can sense he's feeling kind of lost.
He also got into a little trouble last week and I pulled him aside for an explanation and he told me his version. He essentially lost his cool with an adult and was out of line.
We talked about self control and smart decisions.
I guess the point of this update is that the ripples of the economic downturn reach deep and move lives around in ways unexpected ... and that Frank is still trying despite the obstacles tossed his way by adults on Wall Street and in school administration.
It's not over either ... there are more cuts to come.
Here in the smallest cove of the big pond, we go about our business, anxiously awaiting the next ripple.