by A Guide
We all knew “Ray” from our hobby — theatre. He was a high school kid who worked hard on his acting, was great with younger kids, and sometimes walked or biked miles to and from rehearsals. At some level we knew he wasn’t a great student, that he was marked as a troublemaker by the school administration, and that his family wasn’t particularly supportive of him in school or his hobby.
But he was a good kid you could trust onstage and we liked him.
“Cindy” knew more. She knew that Ray wasn’t graduating from high school his senior year. He didn’t have enough credits, and Cindy knew he planned to find a job and get a GED certificate, sometime. She knew he was smarter than his academic record suggested and she knew many families in the theatre community cared about him.
So Cindy contacted the adults who cared about Ray and explained the underlying situation. She didn’t want Ray to fall through the cracks; she wanted us to help her get him back on track. After generating agreement from seven families, she really started to work.
One family took him in to live with them — they fed, housed, and parented him. Several families agreed to provide money to help out. Ray got clothing. He got a bank account — accompanied by someone to teach him about managing money and living on a budget. Another family took responsibility for cultural broadening. Cindy rode herd, guided, cajoled, and generally kept Ray’s guides on track.
Cindy convinced the school system to give this “troublemaker” one more chance, another year to complete high school. She then got Ray transferred to another school, away from those who’d already branded him a failure.
Cindy’s families were involved with Ray’s schooling. Parent-teacher conferences and oversight of homework were taken care of by proxy parents. Ray wondered why we were doing this for him. Each family was asked “Why?” more than once.
But that year Ray had his first birthday party, went on his first Easter egg hunt, and learned to drive. He struggled, he really struggled. And I think he learned that we’d told the truth when we said we did it because he was a good kid and we liked him.
Ray graduated from high school that year. All of his families were there, his biological family and all of the surrogate families. All were equally proud of him. Ray enrolled in community college and now plans on completing a four-year degree.
There are still rough spots. Authority figures bring out the worst in our boy and he’s likely to quit working on something if he decides it’s too hard. But this young man, who was about to leave school without a high school diploma, now believes in himself enough to believe he can finish college. He still has multiple resources for assistance.
All because Cindy cared enough, and refused to let a good kid fall through the cracks without trying to help.