Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Safety Net

The young girl was in the 8th grade when the supervisor of the program for economically needy students held his first meeting. He asked, “I want to hear your names and the future plans of each one of you.”

The answers varied a bit and were somewhat like the following: “I plan to join the Army.” “I want to go to the Jr. College.” “I want to get married and have children.” “I want to be a policeman.” And so it went until Jean answered, “I plan to drop out of school as soon as I can.”

“What?” The supervisor asked in a shocked tone of voice. You see one of the goals of his program was to aid these children by letting them earn some money in the summer while aiming high for their future. He took her aside and spoke with her and discouraged her from dropping out. It wasn’t easy.

He said, “Wait a while and let me see what we can do at your school.” He talked to the counselors and told them of the girl who wanted to drop out. “Let’s do all we can for her because I know she has the potential of being a contributing person in our community.” The counselors listened and accommodated the girl.

He kept up with her and in high school he talked to her about her future. “I still plan to drop out,” she told him. “Besides, I need money for high school and I don’t have it.”

“Wait a while,” he told her as he talked to the high school counselor about the girl. And then he did a remarkable thing. As a teacher he had a job as a sales clerk in the summers to supplement his income. He gave up his job so the girl could take his place and earn extra money and stay in school, and then he found another job for himself. Long story short, as they say. She graduated from high school and then from college and became a teacher, an excellent one.

And her mentor…he continued his life with his wife and children until one day he died. Few people outside the teaching community took note of his death.

She lived unknown, and few could know
When Lucy ceased to be;
But she is in her Grave, and, Oh!
The difference to me.

Taken from “She Dwelt Among the Untrodden Ways” by Wm. Wordsworth

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