Saturday, August 1, 2009

Jennifer's Story (1)

Jennifer was one of the funniest middle school kids that I had ever met. She had a quick wit with kids and adults. In fact, her sense of humor was more in line with adults than with other kids. For a brief period, I truly believed that she was going to grow up to be a stand-up comedian. She seemed to have all of the tools!

However, she also seemed to engage in somewhat daring behaviors that concerned all of her teachers and me. For laughs, Jennifer was the student who would sneak out of a teacher’s room to get a drink of water and then sneak back in without getting caught. Jennifer was also the student who would shoot a rubber band at the chalkboard, narrowly missing the teacher each time. She was also the student who let a mouse loose in the middle of a math exam. Jennifer regularly engaged in several of these daring behaviors, all of which seemed to be on the edge of danger!

None of her teachers ever suspected that Jennifer was the culprit. After all, she was so darned funny with a quick wit and fun-loving personality, that she was never considered to be a suspect in any shenanigans …….. until one day when I walked into her English class just in time to see her throw a marble at a teacher’s file cabinet while the teacher’s back was turned. The noise, of course, stunned the teacher. The other kids in the class, as I would later discover, were used to this “hilarious” behavior from Jennifer.

Although I was on my way to a meeting, I called Jennifer to the hallway. I began by chastising her for throwing the marble at the teacher’s file cabinet. I then continued to admonish her, as I told her that I had expected more from her. I told her that I could not believe that one of the best students in the school had just thrown a marble in the classroom and that, as her Principal, I was horrified that she could commit such a grievous act. Well, within seconds, Jennifer began to cry. At first I thought that she was crying because she, a perfect student in most eyes, had committed an act that would probably get her suspended from school. However, after she and I went to my office, she began to unload the true reasons for her crying.

Jennifer then shared all of her less-than-perfect acts over the past several months, including regularly throwing items in class, sneaking out of classes, and letting mice loose in classes! Jennifer told me that she was extremely unhappy, but she did not know why. This girl, who was the funniest kid in the school, who would made adults laugh and then repeat her hilarious stories in the teachers' lounge, who seemed to have more friends than any 10 kids put together, was miserable inside. Her acts were her subconscious way of screaming for help!

Come back next week for the conclusion. Thank you!

Paul W. Reeves

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