Everyone has their own set of struggles in middle school. I’ve heard many people describe it as their most awkward and challenging time in life. And oh, how some of us are challenged more. One of my students has lost two cousins to gun violence in the last year. One of my students doesn’t expect or feel he deserves a nurturing home environment. One of my students is drawn into conflict nearly every day, trying to feel respected. And when these problems, each enough for one of my students, meet together to weigh on the shoulders of a single, thirteen year old child, the water is deep. It takes intelligence and will to learn how to swim through those remarkable set of challenges, and intelligence and will are things Marshall possesses in great volume. I spent weeks, following him out of classroom ejections and escapes, observing his mind and body pedal through winding corridors of the school, cautiously offering a modest word here and there. He moved on, from face to face, judging for trustworthiness, smelling for safety.
I liked and respected Marshall from the start. It took some time for him to trust me. Now I can help him navigate situations in class and out, trying to nudge him towards better decisions. I hope Marshall overcomes the challenges in his life and comes to realize his full potential. Actually, I’m sure he will.
-Edward Plumb, second year corps member at Mifflin Middle School