Maria became pregnant at the beginning of her freshman year. She had recently joined the academy and was eager to begin her exposure to Architecture, but the dream of one day becoming a professional started to slip away. I have seen many students in similar situations and dropping out is the usual outcome. This is where Maria’s story differs.
In December, Maria went to her counselor and discussed the possibilities of her high school future; later that same day she found out that she would have twins. With the news of children and her bleak academic forecast, she started thinking of a way to succeed.
She first asked to enroll in virtual school during after school hours in order to take some of next year’s courses over the summer and stay on time to graduate. She then proceeded to seek guidance from others who had similar experiences, and what they offered was a world of support in the form of a local mother’s group which gave her diapers, baby clothes, bottles, formula and much more. The emotional support and materials eased the forthcoming financial stress.
Fast forward a few months and she has the twins, is living with another single mother from the local group, is taking classes online, and is getting ready for the upcoming semester. This is when I meet Maria. On the first day of school, she is the first one in class and asks me what my class will do for her career. Not what are we going to do in the class but what will my class do in preparing her to become an architect. The conversation went on until I had convinced her that she would gain valuable career related skills, have opportunities to build relationships with business partners, and earn an industry certification.
Now, nearly two months into school, she is a part of the ACE mentoring club, has an A in my class, is taking two classes online because she only attends half a day during school hours and is always the first person to class with a smile on her face. I do not know if the other students know her story or not, but whenever I ask the students to be problem solvers and never give up, it never fails that her ingenuity and drive is the first thing that comes to my mind.
The hardest problem to solve for some of our students is how to get to school enough to succeed with all that is going on in their lives, and I am truly impressed by their solutions.
By Adam Guidry, Lead Teacher, Academy of Environmental and Urban Planning, Glencliff High School, Nashville, TN