In the fourth grade, I was attending Langstone Hughes Elementary school here in Chicago. At that time, I was already running with a bad crowd. My teachers wrote me off and didn’t care. What they didn’t know was that I couldn’t accept learning my mother was a drug addict and was making bad choices in her life. It hurt me so much inside and I showed it by acting crazy. Even though the school building was beautiful, it had a gate we would break to go outside and buy junk food. There were crack addicts nearby. When we were actually in school, we would yell and fight. My teachers thought that I was a bad kid, they didn’t pay attention to me.
My aunt is raising me and enrolled me into Perspectives Middle Academy to join my older brother and sister. In the sixth grade, I didn’t know multiplication or division. I was never taught how to think about math- just handed a calculator. My reinvention came when I was enrolled in an ethics class called A Disciplined Life. It changed me. We learned about how to improve our self-esteem, have good relationships, and take responsibility for ourselves. It was during a lesson on forgiveness and Nelson Mandela that I understood what I needed to do. A Disciplined Life opened me up, so I decided to talk about my birth mother. I was able to serve as a model because after this, other kids came to me. You don’t know what other people are going through until you are able to be real with one another. I chose to live out the message from Nelson Mandela about forgiveness by going to see my birth mother at a mental health facility. Even though I hadn’t seen her in five years, I need to lift the heavy burden off myself and give her my forgiveness.
Kim’s Vision for the Future
I now have a 4.0 GPA. This a complete change from when I was a student that never did homework. I received a lot of individual attention when I started at Perspectives because I was so behind of the basics. My teachers always believed in me, even when I didn’t have the power to believe in myself. They never let me give up and have set high expectations for me. There’s so much to look forward to in the future. I would like to attend college and then operate a safe house for runaway teens. I have watched myself grow and will continue growing with my heart wide open.
Too often, students of color and students who face challenging circumstances don’t receive the support and encouragement they need to succeed. They are held to lower standards because of a Belief Gap between what society believes they can achieve and what they truly are capable of when we believe in them. Visit BecauseTheyCan.com to find out how to close the Belief Gap
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