The first is a student who had dropped out for a year and then decided to come back to finish high school. He's eighteen, lives on his own, and is having the week from hell. He's having some fairly major health issues, but he doesn't have insurance so he can't afford to go anywhere to get checked out. He doesn't have enough money to pay for his heat so he doesn't have it on. And his cat died. He came in today and sat down with three separate staff members to talk about what's going on with him. This is a kid who is really independent and doesn't show his emotions, but he was literally holding back tears during one of my classes today. I asked what I could do to help and he said "There's nothing anyone can do. I have to take care of this." And then he looked at me with such a sad expression in his eyes and said, "But thanks for asking." I haven't been able to get the look of sadness and desperation that he gave me out of my mind. I've been thinking and praying about him and his situation all night. If you could pray for him as well I'd really appreciate it.
The second is a student who is a fifth year senior. He has one more class to finish before he graduates, which he's been working on in an independent study with me because he's working full time to support the child that he has with his fiance, who graduated last year. Today I found out that his fiance has been cheating on him for several months. She told him about it and then moved out taking their child with her. He called one of the staff members and cried on the phone while he told him about the situation.
It's students like these, who are working their hardest to graduate and still seem to be struggling at every turn, that break my heart. I can't fix the things they have to deal with. The only thing I can do is offer them my support and encouragement and let them know that they are not alone, but that they have a school full of staff and students who care about them and want what's best for them. This is why I teach at Options because I know that the people there care about each other and because I know that I'm making a difference in these students' lives, no matter how small that difference may seem sometimes.