Everyone in the school knows Marcus, and not because he is a model student. Marcus is “that kid,” the one who never turns in an assignment on time, has to sit on the curb during recess for fighting, the one who never misses an opportunity to make a substitute cry. Teachers view Marcus in multiple ways; a cross to bear, a project, a right of passage, one of the many kids we teach every day who has seen too much, knows too much, and has been let down too much. And yet for all of his problems, issues, and mischief, there is something about Marcus that draws you to him.
I have been teaching long enough to know that love alone won’t save Marcus and discipline alone won’t save him either. Our wishes and hopes for him will not help Marcus succeed in and of themselves. Marcus has to learn to overcome. He has to learn to work. We can help, but we can’t do everything.
I have to admit that when he came out for the marathon club, I was a bit shocked. “Will I get one of those plaques if I complete the marathon?” he asked on the first day of practice. Yes, I answered, but you have to complete every component of the R3 program: the reading, the math, and the running.