Monday, May 21, 2007

The College Office

My colleague Phil, for his building assignment, works in the college office. Now teachers write recommendations for their students all the time. I write dozens of them, and I believe I've declined only two kids in 22 years. But what happens to the kids teachers decline? They still need recommendations.

Well, Phil writes 'em:

I've never actually met Susan, but I'm fairly certain she has some very good qualities. I can see from her photo that she's very well-dressed, at least down to her shoulders. Also, her hair is immaculately combed. She appears to have all of her teeth, though I can't actually be sure from the photograph. I think, though, that you can count on Susan for good hygeine. There's not a stain on her, at least from the shoulders up.

Susan's transcript clearly states she got a 75 in gym last spring. That's ten more points than are required to pass. Now, Susan didn't have to work that hard, but she took it upon herself, and chose not to accept the minimum.

This says to me that Susan is the kind of person who strives for something better. Clearly she could have settled for 65. She may have even settled for 70. But, no, she went for 75.

I think when Susan gets her GED, college will be just around the corner. This will be even more likely if she ever learns to speak English. And make no mistake, she's trying hard. She's taken level one English as a second language not four, not five, but six times.

Sure, she hasn't actually reported to any of those English classes, but Susan is nothing if not determined. Why next time, it's entirely possible she may show up. If so, she may access that gumption she displayed in gym last spring, and....

I don't know whose idea it was to make Phil (or others) do this job. It appears someone determined that with Phil writing their recommendations, these kids would have it made. Somehow, though, I'm left wondering whether there should have been more serious intervention before the matter reached his desk.
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