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Grappling With Grief, Finding Motivation

Communities In Schools of the Charleston Area
Behavioral Interventions

After the passing of his mother, Sean’s life was turned upside down; he moved to his father’s house and faced the challenges of a new school. Sean struggled with his anger, which frequently got in the way of time in the classroom.

It is 7:15 AM and site coordinator Lee McLeod finds herself down in the Principal’s office again with Sean, a 7th grade student at Haut Gap Middle School. After the passing of his mother, Sean’s life was turned upside down; he moved to his father’s house and faced the challenges of a new school. Sean struggled with his anger, which frequently got in the way of time in the classroom, leading to a decline in his grades. His mindset was “If I don’t get it, I don’t like the teacher, it’s just not for me, I give up.” Now a 9th grade student, Sean has changed his perspective on the power of relationships and is maintaining A’s and B’s, while learning to keep his anger under control.  

Sean needed a non-judgmental mentor--someone who could keep him accountable for his grades, while providing him with a safe space at his new school. Communities in Schools and Ms. McLeod provided Sean with the resources he needed to realize that with effort, he could manage his anger and achieve the grades he desired. Ms. McLeod introduced Sean to Wise Guys, a young men’s group that focused on academic accountability. Through groups, field trips, and mentors, Ms. McLeod worked tirelessly to surround Sean with services—from academic assistance to creating community on campus.  

Though Sean dreams to play in the NFL or NBA, Ms. McLeod always reinforced that education was “the end-all, be-all.” She consistently tied education back to everything and reiterated the advantages of good teacher relationships. For Sean, the spark came in 8th grade when he connected with his math teacher. He began to realize that if he had a good relationship, the benefits were enormous; the academics were easier when he was less anxious to ask for help. Sean’s low grades skyrocketed to A’s and B’s. 

Now a 9th grade student, Sean has changed his perspective on the power of relationships; keeping A’s, B’s and a cool head even when he is frustrated. He is a member of both the football and basketball team and a leader of ‘Soulfully Creative Kids,” a local non-profit performance group. As Sean adjusts to the workload of high school and plans for his future, he knows Ms. McLeod is always there as a resource. Looking back, Sean remembers, “Ms. McLeod would tell me, ‘Sean, you’re better than this.’ She made me think I could do better, and then I did.”  

 

In South Carolina