Saturday, February 28, 2009

Didn't See that Coming

As I may or may not have mentioned, my school is on a 4x4 semester schedule, which means that kids have four 90-minute classes each semester, but each class covers a year's worth of material because of the doubled amount of time. It also means that at the semester change in January, I got a whole new set of students. Toward the end of the first week of the new semester, I got a message from a counselor about one of my new geometry students. Her mother had just passed away unexpectedly from a heart attack. Wow, what a way to start the new semester. This student wasn't close to her mother, she said, and only lives with her father, but it still hit her hard. Naturally, she spent most of the next week out of class, attending the funeral and wake, talking with her counselor, etc.

One of the downsides of the 4x4 block schedule is that missing a week of class is in many ways like missing two weeks of class under a regular schedule. By the time this student was back in class on a regular basis, we were pretty much done with our first unit and she ended up bombing our first test. So her counselor and I began to work with her about how she could catch up in my class. I cut a deal with her that I would let her retake the test and excuse her from most of that work in the first unit if she would come after school and work with me until she felt comfortable with the material. She came in a coupe days over the next few weeks and I felt like we were making progress and that she'd be ready to retake the test this week (now the fifth week of the semester) or next.

Up until now, this is just a tragic story that makes me feel like wow, life can be unfair. Here's this poor girl, who just transferred here partway through the first semester and could have used the new semester as a fresh start, but it gets interrupted from the get-go by a completely unfair tragedy. So here's where the story takes a new turn:

On Thursday, this student's English teacher called home and mentioned to her father about how we really want to support her through this difficult time. The father was confused--what difficult time? It turns out that this student's mother did not die of a heart attack at the beginning of the semester, and in fact is not dead at all. Everything was made up. Unbelievable. Absolutely unbelievable. I mean, it's one thing to come up with a lie that your grandmother or aunt or something died, but your mother? How did she think that nobody was going to find out? How did she create such an intricate lie that she missed school for the "funeral" and everything?

Updates to follow on what happens with this situation. There is definitely going to be a meeting with the student, her father, and all of the teachers next week. I'm not really sure how one assigns consequences for a lie like this. There's clearly something going on that this girl needs help with, but I am clueless as to how to get that help to her.


SWE said...


Jen of A2eatwrite said...

I'm kind of astonished that the school accepted this information from the student herself in the first place. Didn't they get some kind of word from the family?