Laurie, the education director, at Hope Ministries asked me to volunteer with another non-reader. I suggested we do as I did with M--that we meet and then decide if we wanted to work together. The first meeting went well. S's skills were too low to do standardized testing so I did a more informal word list to get a base line. We began with three letter words with short vowels.
We have been scheduled to meet seven times. One time was a no show. Two times, the last two times, S was very late. Last Friday, she and her case manager N showed up just as I was about to leave. They were apologetic saying S had not slept after an altercation the previous night. S said she had to have a smoke first and then we went to work for the 20 minutes I had left.
This morning I texted her to make sure she would be ready for me at 9:30. She asked if I could come later so she could clean her apartment. I had scheduled the earlier time because her 8 year old son has only half days at school due to his behavior issues . He has been present for two previous lessons and it adds stress for both of us. We settled on 10 am.
There was a funeral service going on as I waited for S. I enjoyed listening to the music and the director's welcome to the mourners. But by 10:20, after no responses to my texts, I was ready to leave. And then S arrived by bicycle. She had gone to a gas station to buy cigarettes.
I was not happy but we went to work. And then within five minutes, there was her son joining us. In spite of all of that, we had a good lesson. She is so happy with any success. Her son joined us for one activity and then ate his lunch without much fuss.
This is the balance that the case managers at Hope must have to strike all the time with their residents. S was being irresponsible and thoughtless. Her cigarettes were more important than being on time for me. So do I accept that and try to accomplish something with her anyway? I did today.
Her case manager told me she is convinced there is a good heart underneath all the anger. She referred to S's battle with the devil and how she needs Jesus. I was amused to hear S call on Jesus at least three times last week during our lesson to help her read those three letter words.
She was calmer today. She was delighted when I praised her for using the word "look" to read a word she didn't know--"took." We began to think of other rhyming words and she suggested a few. I challenged her with the word "shook" and then the word "crook!" Oh, she loved that one and said she was sure to remember it. "It's like...If she steals my stuff, she's a crook, right?" There might be a story there!
So I will go back on Monday and told her it has to be 9:30. She apologized for being late. I will text again however. I don't want to give up on her. She needs to learn to read and N said this is one bright spot in her life and that she likes me. I know she does and that she is grateful. But I don't want to make trips downtown for nothing and I don't want to encourage irresponsibility.
My second addition or edit to this post. Jim suggested I change the initials of the student and I did. I toned down some of my sentences because my initial posting was a debriefing that I needed!
But now I need to add that I got word this morning that S "lost her bed" at Hope. Where is she today then and where are her two children? Hope has to have rules and I know they gave her more than one chance. I might still be able to meet her at Hope or elsewhere but I am not optimistic. It is very sad.