47-Year Old Student. No Jacket. Public Housing. Writing on 3rd Grade Lvl.

Posted: January 9, 2010 in Uncategorized

One of the students I taught this past semester was a 47-year-old mother of 3. She lived in public housing, took the bus to school, and braved frigid 30 degree days wearing the warmest article of clothing she owned, a hooded sweatshirt with the logo of the college on the front. She went a stretch of the semester, I’d say two to three weeks, with her BGE shut off, and with cold weather swiftly approaching, she presented her dilemma to social services. Because she received child support from the father of her children, she was not eligible to receive aid from social services, and the woman she spoke with told her to drop out of college and get a job. When my student told the woman she needed to stay in college to obtain skills, the social services employee then told her that if she didn’t go get a job, she was a bad mother and didn’t deserve custody of her children.

One of this woman’s children is a teenage girl, who now has a baby of her own. My student asked her daughter’s teenage boyfriend how he was possibly going to support a child, and he replied that the state would pay for it.

My 47-year-old student realizes that she made mistakes in her own life at a very young age, and she is desperately trying to save her children from making the same mistakes. She has two twin 15-year-old boys whom she made sure enrolled in community college for the upcoming semester. I think part of the reason she enrolled in classes was to set an example for her children, but to be honest, her effort wasn’t very impressive. She missed two weeks of class and then claimed that due to a mold problem in her home, she wasn’t able to come to school for that duration of time.

The class was an essay writing class, and for the first two assignments, I am convinced that she had her daughter write her essays. The essays were always e-mailed to me from her daughter’s account. The e-mailed essays weren’t well-written, but they were much higher quality than the student’s in-class writing. She needed to pass the last essay in order to pass the class, so she plagiarized 100% of the essay, and then acted like she didn’t know she wasn’t allowed to do that.

I gave her another chance and the poor quality of her writing prevented her from passing the course. I’d estimate she was on about a third grade writing level, and when she read back to me what she had written, she couldn’t even read the exact words she had written unless I brought attention to the fact that she was changing up the words.

I think her long-term goal was to obtain a degree in mortuary science. I don’t think she passed any of the classes she was enrolled in last semester. I know she must have felt entirely defeated, and even though she was an extremely difficult student to deal with at times and she lied quite often, I still feel for her and it saddens me to know that the circumstances of her life will probably not see any drastic positive change. I wish I could track her children to see if history will repeat itself or if any of them will be able to break out of the cycle of poverty and hardship.

  1. Jenn says:

    I am not suprised by this situation at all. I to am a high school drop out with the courage to return and change my life. Unlike your student I did loose my children because the system failed me. Today I am a proud granma and all of my children have graduated high school and gone on to sucessful lives. I was a bit more fortunate on the education level I had apparently gone further or learned more during my time in school. We all have our stories and reasons. Unfortunately none of that will support or feed us or our children. Today I spend my time helping those who want to help themselves. This individual seems to be one of those but the system wants her to do it thier way. Thier way is not working. To much red tape and these individuals do not know where to go or how to get where they need to be. Please, I believe in this individual and all of the others lost in this vicious cycle. If you have any other students and/or non students that need help have them contact my group. We will help and support them. If you are still in contact with this individual I would love to help. I do understand the frustration of the lies and what seems to be the lack of effort at times. But we must understand where it comes from. How can they believe in themselves when thier entire lifes no one else has. The future of her children certainly depends on what she gives to them today. The future of Baltimore and America depends on what we do. It is our responsiblity to help!

  2. mdeducator81 says:

    People in situations like the one I described above definitely need a support system. This woman needed more advice and attention than I was able to give her.

    I am glad to hear that your children have gone on to lead successful lives. I’m sure my student would appreciate your support and your willingness to help, and I know she could benefit from it. I’m not sure if she will be returning to campus next semester. If more people do as you are doing, attempting to help people who want to improve their lives, the odds go up that these people will find success and happiness.
    Thanks for commenting and offering your support.

  3. Ricky Walker says:

    Just wanted to say hello. Keep up the good work. I didn’t read the entire posting, had been on my computer for most of the evening, studying for the Microsoft Certified Application Specialist Certification, and looking at craigslist posting as a play time reward. Hope your twitter endeavor pans out. Ricky

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