Wednesday, February 17, 2010

She Didn't Get The Grading Done Because Her Six-Year Old Sliced Off His Fingertip?

This would be the Matron's rendition of the all time favorite COLLEGE tune: The Cat Ate My Homework.

Sung to the tune of The Beverly Hillbillies.

BUT. Really? The Matron DID INDEED get all of her grading done. And her course preps. She showed up to all her committees and meetings.

Thankfully, Merrick's finger looks pink and pretty and, most importantly, full intact. He was the Hero in school yesterday, wielding splint and bandage as Badge of Honor, and earning that most coveted Minnesota grade school privilege: he got to stay inside and paint during recess --with a friend!

His life has never been better. Next time he's aiming for a more dramatic digit.

But the Matron had her own dramas in mind this week as she contemplated obstacles faced by her community college students --AND -- the consequences of how they respond to those dilemmas.

Now, the Matron is a big believer in policy and rule, particularly at her very-well-run institution. She fills out the forms and takes the head count. Accordingly, she withdraw students from her class, should a student go two consecutive weeks without any effort at attendance or communique.

Usually this means a lot of extra work for the Matron. Because she dis-enrolls them and they immediately get back in touch -- panicked! Asking to be let back in because:

1. You are a forty-four year old single mother of three trying to get your 12 year old son out of the juvenile home where he's been living for two years, your computer crashed and one of your other children has the stomach flu.

2. You are a 23 year old single father to a two-year old boy, recently returned from Iraq (army), unable to find a job and if your teacher withdraws you and you're not in school, all those GI benefits (nearly $4,000) go away and that is ALL THE MONEY you have. In the world.

3. You are a 46 year old, twenty-two year army veteran recently retired, sole supporter of wife and three children, returning to school and the shift supervisor for a turkey processing plant--and the plant fired the other shift supervisor (money) forcing you to work every single night of the week and THEN go to school full time and be a husband and father.

4. You are 19 years old and recently emigrated -- with your parents--from Haiti. Need she say more? You have just lost four close family members, your old home, and you are working at McDonald's as the main breadwinner for your now grieving nearly hysterical parents and helping out with the four younger siblings.

The Matron? Dear friends: she ALWAYS lets these students back in! With a plan for how to catch up and sometimes? A tissue and a conversation.

So imagine this . . . here she is in her tidy little office.

Ring, ring (this is the phone for the slower people).

Matron: "Hello?"

Kiara (so not her real name): "Mary? This is Kiara X. I'm in your Class NeverShowUp."

Matron: "Well, not any more Kiara. You haven't been there since January 19th. I just withdrew you from the class."


Kiara: "Well, Mary. I have had a bad migraine."

Now it's the Matron's turn to pause.

Matron: "A migraine? Nothing else? No jail, no bankruptcy, unplanned pregnancy, fifteen family members moving in?"

Kiara: "Actually, I've been sorta hanging out at home watching TV with my husband when he's not at work. It's just a bad migraine, that's all. I've been taking care of myself real good with movies and home-cooked meals. I think I'm on the mend."

Matron: "Have you seen a doctor? Are you okay?"

Kiara: "Oh, I will be FINE next week. When I get a bad headache I just need a break from life. Get comfy and CHILL and take care of ME, you know. My migraine is all gone and thought I'd come back to class next Tuesday, in a week, just to kick it, you know."

The month long migraine?

Sigh. This is where the Matron draws the line. Sorry, Kiara.


Anonymous said...

You definitely have compassion where it counts!
As the wife of an Army vet, special kudos to you on those counts.

Kiara needs to get out and meet some real people.

*m* said...

Wow. I need "a break from life" too. Maybe I should live in Kiaraland, which is apparently close to Neverland.

Those other stories? Heartbreaking. You are a good soul, MM.

Sue said...

When I was young and very foolish, I had a great family supporting me, and I lived in a place very much like Kiaraland.
I've grown up since then, but when I look back, I'm still embarassed.
Sometimes you teach English, sometimes you teach life. I think you are a good teacher :)

Anonymous said...

Whew. I was getting a little worried that you didn't let those first students back into your class. Silly me, of course you did -- you know The Right Thing To Do. Which is also what you did for Kiara :)

MJ said...

Ring ring? Is that a rotary telephone? Doesn't your phone sound something interesting like "La Coucouracha"?

Minnesota Matron said...

You're right, MJ. I bet Heather Armstrong's phone doesn't ring!

Suburban Correspondent said...

Actually, I love the ringtones made to sound like an "old-fashioned" phone!

SUEB0B said...

Hey, I haven't been to you class ever. Can I still get credit? Pleeeease?

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

An excellent line to draw in my opinion. And dis-enrolling her will probably be her great hardship for the year.

Daisy said...

I handed back a stack of papers last week that my rabbit had "eaten." There was enough paper left to grade and record, and I did.
Now that's a story for the fourth graders: the time my teacher's rabbit ate my homework!

Susan said...

I hear those Kiara-type student stories and I think of the nightmares I had when I was a student about forgetting to attend a class and having to take a scary to me - so casual to them.