Dear Agustin

education, photography

Dear Agustin,

I wish you had told me sooner. I can only help you be successful to the extent that you are honest with me and you let me understand the complexities you are facing.

Pain cannot be silenced. He parades around in disguises when we try to hide him from others, but he will not go away until faced and dealt with.

Without knowing what was occurring in your life outside of school, here is how I described your first semester of 6th grade to your mom in our parent conference yesterday:

In August and September, Agustin was a solid B student. While not always intrinsically motivated, he responded well to reminders to complete his work and stay on task in class. He was pleasant, funny and had perfect attendance. Occasionally, he got a little too silly with his friends, but he would politely and respectfully bring it back when corrected.

 In October and November, Agustin’s grades slipped to low C’s, and he almost never turned in completed homework. He began to display an attitude of careless and reckless behavior. When corrected, he talked back, sulked or even walked out of class. He has not laughed or joked with his friends in his usual, carefree way. He skipped my class on three different occasions in the past month.

Agustin, I wish I could have had this conversation with your mom and your dad. But you and I both know that this is no longer possible. Your dad told me in August that he brought you to this country – facing incredible hardships along the way – so that you could have the best education possible.

Would he be proud of the way you are letting pain and sadness erode the gift he gave you?

Your mom told me that he has applied for a work visa. I am hopeful that you will see him again soon, and during the in-between time, I want to challenge you to make him proud with the decisions you are making. Act every day as if your dad is about to walk back in the door to be reunited with your family forever. Wouldn’t you want him to catch you on your best day with your best grades?

I can only imagine how traumatizing it was to see your dad taken from your dinner table. When those memories surface, I want to challenge you to stay. Don’t walk out of class. You can’t outrun the memory; it’s internal. You have to sit there and face Pain and show him you’re stronger. Channel that rage into becoming the smartest student and the fastest striker on the soccer team.

A student who has the courage to walk out of class has the strength he needs to stay and overcome.

All my love,

-Ms. Jackson

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