Wednesday, May 22, 2013

But I Didn't Get to Say Goodbye

A few years ago, I wrote about W, who at the time was a kiddo in a social skills/anger management group I was running. Ever since that group, W has been one of my buds. If I needed a manly favor, he was there ready to carry Food Bank deliveries and unload holiday gifts donated by a local church for the primary students. When W was performing with our chorus in the community and didn't have transportation, Husband and I were there on the bright to pick him up from his house on one of the worst streets in the city so he could sing. W was always eager to tell me about something going on with his mom or sister, the book he was reading on the Civil War, his latest tracks laid down in his uncle's recording studio, how much he likes his teacher this year, and more. He gave me a run for my money every time we played Uno, and he was even more interested than some of my female co-workers to hear about my wedding! I loved having lunch with he and his classmates, and if it had been awhile, they made sure I knew with an excited, "Miss, can we eat with you today?" W appreciated that I let him "be him" and even curse in my presence when angry (gasp!), I appreciated him just being a kid when he would goof with his friends.

I probably won't get to see W again.

2013 has been a rough year for W. While his behavior in school this year was stellar (minus hiccups that can be expected of a student with an Emotional Disturbance), he became increasingly involved in street life and bad things outside of school. I was astounded and shocked to hear that he was running away from home, stealing from corner stores, and drinking alcohol. Certainly that wasn't my W? His mom, who is an incredible person and cares deeply about her kids, was at her wits end and sent W to live with another family member. Things continued downhill, family court became involved, and W hasn't been back to school since.

Flash forward to a few weeks ago when W's fate was being decided in court. We were worried that he was going to be put into a detention facility for adolescents, which has a reputation in the city for being kid jail (we're talking bars on the windows, here). A curious and kind student like W would've been crushed there, so my colleagues and I had our fingers crossed that the judge would rule differently. Thankfully, W was "sentenced" to a year in a residential treatment facility. He would go to school there, live there, receive mental health and behavioral services, and be virtually on lock-down at all times.

While W will be getting a different, "better" home for the next year, it means that he will not be back to my building before he begins high school. Next year would've been his 8th grade year, the last before he applied to high schools and graduated from us. I was so looking forward to seeing him get his 8th grade diploma, because I know how hard he has worked for it. I also half expected him to ask me to "pin" him at Moving Up Day.

Once W gets a permanent bed at a facility, I plan to write him a letter. I'm not sure what it's going to say yet, but I think it'll be something along the lines of, "You're a special kid. You're going to get through this. You're going to do great things someday."

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  1. Hey there. Just came across your blog and I am really enjoying it. I am considering pursuing my EdS in School Psych next year, but I have a few reservations about it. Many SPs seem to really love their job, but I've read in a few places that there's also a high burnout rate in the profession. I am worried about the possibility that I'd go into further debt to obtain the degree, then turn into one of these burnouts five years later. Do you think this is a valid concern? Valid enough to derail my SP plans? In your experience, what do the people who leave the profession end up doing? Are they able to transfer into related fields, or do they generally have to start afresh? Thanks so much for your help!

    1. Hi Andrew, thanks for stopping by and I'm glad you're enjoying the blog! Burnout is a problem, I can't sugarcoat that--I definitely had my fair share of big glasses of wine this year (hey poor coping skills). It happens in any field, but definitely affects the human services/education fields highly. However, if school psychology is your passion, you will find ways to work through any stress and frustration you may find with the profession. School psychs don't only have to work in schools--private practice, hospitals, early childhood centers, behavioral specialists, etc are all possible options for employment, and may be more appealing. I haven't known anyone who has left school psychology yet, but those I've known who have left the education field leave it completely, in my experience. I hope this helps! Maybe you could conference and shadow some school psychologists in your area to get their input and see what things are like day-to-day for them. Make sure to check out urban, suburb, and rural for the full effect!


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