From Students to Learners

In February I left a position that had been close to my heart for about 10 years. Beginning as a teacher and then becoming principal I worked with court-involved youth order to a  residential crisis-stabilization facility on a temporary basis (less than 60 days), where youth were supposed to re-gain control of their lives. The young people who came to us were invariably suffering from traumatic stress.  Many of them experiencing ongoing, long-term trauma.  

The education team’s job was to support crisis-stabilization and to maintain the education of youth.

While that may not sound “close to anyone’s heart,” children struggling to make sense of their lives, understand their choices as well as other’s choices (parents, siblings, etc.), and put their circumstances in context, was challenging.  Helping them gain perspective, gain control of their lives, and begin to make choices to improve–challenged us all.  There were some days when your heart wrenched for the angst, expressed anger, and our futile attempts to truly help a youth.  

My hope would be to continue to find ways to advocate for students that struggle so that they may become “learners.” My hope is that I can provide some insight for educators who want to reach and help those students that struggle succeed.  Why is that so challenging–because these are the students that challenge us with their defiance, non-compliance, absenteeism, and eventually truancy.

I have been a witness to these challenging youth transforming themselves into successful learners so that when returning to public education many were able to transfer the skills and mindset developed in our education program back into school providing these students (now learners) to successfully re-engage in education.

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