The Football Star-Another Teaching Story About A Young Man With A Learning Disability
A Great Young Man
LaRance was a second grader when I met him. It was my third year teaching and I had one of the most wonderful groups I have ever had that year. That year I taught second through fifth grade.
LaRance was an adorable little boy. His big brown eyes, his big smile, and his funny, caring attitude made him a friend to everyone. He struggled with reading and math, but excelled at personality. I don't know anyone, child or adult, who was not drawn to his charm.And he wanted to be a professional football player.
He made my life difficult only because he was so helpful...he wanted to help everyone and not do his own work. That might have been okay...but he didn't know how to do the other work correctly, and usually "helped" the others to a wrong answer. He wasn't trying to do anything wrong - he just couldn't stand it when someone needed help.
When he wasn't helping others, he was talking about football. He played on a little league team, and was a good player. He bragged about how well he did on the football field, and told us daily that one day he was gonna be a star!
I always smiled and reminded him of the statistics against him. I told him that he should practice as much as he could and play the hardest he could play, but that he needed to work that hard at school, as well. He sometimes told me that he didn't need to study...he was gonna be famous. I asked him what he would do if something happened and he could no longer play football. I told him he needed a back up plan. He laughed and said that he wouldn't need a back up plan, and then usually went right back to work.
LaRance and two little brothers, Jeremy and Trey, and a little sister, Clarissa. He had an older brother. His parents were some of the nicest people I had met, and only wanted the best for their children. It was hard for them with five young children, four of them rowdy boys. But you could tell they loved their kids and provided everything they needed. They were a very loving family.
When LaRance was in fifth grade (and still one of my students) he had a wonderful group of friends, most who were also in my class. He still wanted to help everyone, but by now he could actually help some of the younger students find the right answers. And he loved working with the younger ones.
One morning, LaRance asked if he could use the restroom. I told him to sign out and take a pass, but to hurry back because we had a fun lesson coming up. He agreed. I finished up with the small group I was working with, and then had the students do a brain exercise before we went on to the next lesson. I kept watching the door, waiting for LaRance to return, but got distracted when the students finished and sat down in their seats.
I began the next lesson, a game using football terms and rules to play a math game. I was explaining it and then modeling it, using one of the students. We played once all the way through, while I explained to the others what we were doing as we did it. Then I paired up the kids and let them play.
I noticed then that LaRance had still not returned from the bathroom. I was worried, because he was never gone that long. I had one of the paras watch the class and went out to find him. As I walked out into the hall, I saw him coming around the corner and towards the classroom.
"Where have you been," I asked.
"In the bathroom, " he answered.
"You were gone a long time."
"I know, I was busy."
"With what?" He then gave me a look as if to say, "What do you think?"
I told him to come into the class, and let him know that I would have to take some of his points for the day. He said he knew and joined in one of the games. I didn't think too much about until later at lunch.
One of the kindergarten teachers came to me and said, "That LaRance is a pretty special young man."
I was used to these kinds of comments about Larry, so I just said, "Yes he is," and sat down to eat my lunch.
"I couldn't believe he would do that, though."
I asked her what she was talking about. She told me that one of her students had gone to the bathroom and when he came back he was crying. She asked what had happened and he told her that he had an accident in the bathroom. He hadn't been able to reach the stall in time and had "pooped" all over himself and the bathroom. He said that a big boy named LaRance had come to his rescue and helped him clean up himself and the bathroom.
The next day, when I saw LaRance, I told him that I knew why he had taken so long the day before. I asked him why he hadn't told me the truth.
"Cuz that little boy would have been embarrassed and I didn't want that...he didn't need anyone to know."
I teared up and gave him a hug. And gave back his points...and added a few more.
His family moved soon after that. I saw his mom occasionally around town and she always updated me on what was going on in his life.
The next time I saw LaRance he came into my classroom with a picture and an invitation. It was his senior picture and an invitation to his high school graduation. He told me he got a scholarship to play football at a local college.
Then he said, "Don't worry, Miss....I got a back up plan. I'm gonna study sports management and probably teaching. I want to be a coach and a high school teacher when I'm done with football."
I have no doubt that he will accomplish all of his dreams...I can't wait to hear from him again!
As I said in a comment below, Larry came to see me on a back to school night. He is now the proud father (single father! Mom is not in the picture) of a beautiful little girl. He is also doing almost exactly what he always wanted to do...playing football. Right now it is semi-pro, but I have confidence that he will be pro one day!
I was telling him how proud of him I was. He said that he turned out the way he did because he had two special women in his life that helped him...his mother and me. He made me cry when he told me that...I am crying again as I write this. He told me how special I was to him and that he wants me to teach his little girl when she starts school next year. I told Larry that I couldn't wait. He also told me that he will attend more college because he is trying to find the back up plan...He might even become a teacher! He would make an awesome special education teacher, because he has gone through it...and has overcome it!
LaRance came to visit me again. This time with even more exciting news! He is getting married next year and wanted to invite me to the wedding!