Being 5 minutes late sometimes provides reflective opportunities (it can also get you in trouble, but we won’t be going into personal examples of that!).
My wife and I along with our three little boys under the age of five rolled out the van to walk into our church. Of course you probably could have guessed that we’d be exiting a van based on the number of small children we have. Anyway… Hurriedly we moved across the parking lot and into the lobby. Something was obviously wrong. Why are all of these people in the lobby? Are they all late as well? Wishful thinking because we are usually the only folks strolling in as the final prayer is being said. Reading the faces of the people gathered it was clear that something was terribly wrong. Fear, urgency, and worry were spreading amongst the crowd without many words being spoken.
Long story short, a little girl had run out of the doors and before anyone could react she was GONE! Of course when we heard about this situation the mobilization of forces swiftly began. We divided up, took different directions and began a rescue mission for this vulnerable little girl. After approximately 20 minutes of looking, we heard that a law enforcement official found the girl running along a two lane highway. Whew.
Here is why this is such a reflective opportunity, besides my personal terrifying thoughts about my own children in a situation such as this. We have a lost student problem at our school. I know, I know… we have a lost student issue in our country, but I have to be able to fit this reflection into my own schema. Everyday we have a student bolt from our school. Maybe they leave physically, or maybe just emotionally and academically. But they most definitely leave.
What I’m wondering and asking myself is why, as an educational community, are we not urgently reactive. C’mon, we are talking about a kid that bolts from OUR building! I know that being reactive is long thought of as silly and ineffective. But in emergency situations, reactivity or lack of oftentimes leads to life or death. And in the case with students leaving our schools, we are letting them choose a path that might very well mean death. Dying dreams, ideas, ambitions, potential, etc.
Keeping them in is one thing and we tackle this with ongoing instructional, relational and operational improvements. But chasing after them when they do leave is our responsibility as well. Not for the benefit of us, but for the benefit of them.
Our pastor scrapped his sermon that day. He simply told us to target one person. Help find them. I think we need to do the same with our students. Target one student that has checked out, either physically or emotionally, scrap the sermon and find them. I have mine picked out. She is going to make it. I know it. Let’s go authentically looking for kids.