Monday, January 05, 2009

Today's Dawn Update

Now that we're all back from the holidays, I went over to Big Picture at the end of the school day today. (I was looking to pay a student who has been helping me with transcribing and translating interviews in Spanish.) After finishing my errand, I saw Alfredo's office door was open and walked over. Just then, Dawn's mom walked out, clutching an envelope. We said hi and she went on her way.

I believe the envelope was a letter of support for Julian, who has a court hearing coming up soon. Alfredo and I talked about what had happened with Dawn. "It was really hard to let her go," he said. But she hadn't been coming to school regularly--she had quite a few absences and tardies. She hasn't been staying at home regularly and her mother doesn't know where she is, all the same stuff that has been happening for over a year. "It was putting a damper on the other kids," to have her come to school irregularly like that, Alfredo said.

We agreed that she is bright and has a lot of talent, but her (and her parents') inability to set routines and follow through on plans is holding her back. Her lack of faith in herself is also holding her back, but she's not taking the steps to take care of herself there either, like going to counseling. "We couldn't do it for her," Alfredo said. I understand that completely.

Interestingly, Alfredo's boss checked in with him when she found out one of Big Picture's last students was dropping out. "Are you sure that's the only solution?" he was asked. He explained the long process it had been and all the work he and Dawn's teachers had done to help her. Alfredo told me that Dawn's mom had thanked him today for all Big Picture had done for her children, even though neither of them will be graduating from the school. "She said she knew from the very beginning that we were on her side and she appreciated everything we had done for them," he said.

Of course, when I came back home from the school, I saw Dawn's mom on the sidewalk and Dawn pulling up in front of the house in her Camry. She gave me a big smile and I waved at her very enthusiastically, but I had to get back to work right away so I kept on going.

As far as Alfredo knows, Dawn is neither working nor going to school right now. Last week I stopped by next door and left a Christmas present for her, a small black purse--over the holiday I called one of her friends to get advice on what to get--so perhaps that will be a conversation starter the next time we run into each other.

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