A Good Time To Show Up Late

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.

Image: Casie and Chad by smoorenburg via Flickr

4 thoughts on “A Good Time To Show Up Late

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention A Good Time To Show Up Late | admin-novate -- Topsy.com

  2. What a great idea, for ANY educator. As you start the year, identify one kid, and then go “find” them. Awesome.

  3. Thank you Michael. It seems like an easy thing to do, but we know it isn’t that simple. But if we think that prevention and intervention are the only two pieces of the puzzle, and leave out the emergency response, we are not being thorough. Thanks!

  4. Hey Luke – Geesh! Reading this has thrown me for a loop! Here I was thinking I was still on a mental “check-out” for the summer, and BAM! you throw it at me! Your post reminds me largely of our philosophy we took with our Guided Program of Study (GPS) at Benton, and the “Starfish Story” – you know the one where the kid on the beach taught the old guy a lesson about saving things one at a time? There were so many students to care for! But we did it, one by one, we reached some of them. There is proof of that when I see them in public or they return to visit.
    This summer, I have taken in a “starfish”. I have responded with emergency services (at least those I am able to give). And it has been TOUGH! He’s a former BHS student, a former GPS kiddo, and my best friend’s oldest son. We got him home. We got him safe. My job has been to provide a safe place for him to come “chill” rather than squander about and lecture him about his GED. He knows he is welcome here, he knows he is safe here, and he spoke to an Air Guard recruiter last week about finishing school.
    I have been thinking a lot about my students in the classroom and my CAMP kids this year. I hope that I have the knowledge to know when one of them is bolting mentally from my lesson. I also hope that I can get my emergency services in place if that happens. I pray I have the knowledge to target at least one! I think providing the safe place (physically and mentally) may have a lot to do with it. Good post – thanks for bringing me back to reality!

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