Gabe’s Struggle (National Volunteer Week 2012)

Gabe is a student that comes from a two parent household. He’s an only child and he loves math. From this information alone, one could assume things are looking pretty good for Gabe.

Delve a little deeper and realize Gabe struggles with his self-esteem, finds it difficult to verbalize his feelings, has tendencies of self-depreciation, faces anxiety in loud or chaotic environments, and has a shyness that is enhanced when others look at him. Gabe struggles with behavioral and social issues. His parents struggle as well: Gabe’s dad hasn’t been able to come to terms with Gabe’s challenges, and believes Gabe just needs to grow up and act right. His mom recognizes Gabe’s challenges and wants his son to succeed, but she doesn’t possess the resources to support him.

This week Gabe arrived in his classroom and had a great morning. He was in a phenomenal space…until he had a difficult interaction with a fellow classmate, which led him to fall apart for two hours. He became hung up on the interaction and his anger got the best of him. Distraught, upset and unable to bounce back, Gabe was facing suspension from this little incident. He is a student in a classroom where the teacher works to help him feel safe, teach him coping mechanisms and celebrate his successes when he’s having a good day. He’s a student at a school that invites parents to engage their students alongside administration and teachers.

Rather than getting suspended, Gabe was given some space for quiet. He was invited into conversation with his mom and his teacher Ms. Logan (a Lasallian Volunteer) in which they discussed what happened, offered reassurance that he was wanted at the school, that they believe he can succeed, and that giving up when things get tough is not an option.

Gabe returned to his class while mom did some work in the school’s main office. Gabe felt more secure knowing she was nearby. Ms. Logan and Gabe re-joined class, and during the math lesson, she volleyed to his strengths in place values, encouraging him, building his esteem by bringing his intelligence to light and putting it on display.

Gabe’s support network went the extra mile. They’ve shown he can be successful and loved despite his behavior problems. When he trusts them, they can help him navigate his anger, gather tools and resources to succeed, and he can have the confidence to step back into the classroom and strive to be his best self the next day.

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