I receive a call from AnaMaria. A family awaits me outside 282. I head to the office suite to meet them.
Only they aren’t the family I’m expecting. I swallow, open the door and seat the three of them.
Soraya’s mother holds three folded letters. The last one reads “Final Notice of Summons.”
“It said I could face charges!” Her mother exclaims, her aggravation evident.
But the middle-aged Latina also sounds nervous. Her wide eyes seek confirmation of her letters’ accusation. Her estranged ex-husband, on the other hand, calmly takes in everything with a non-chalant gaze.
Soraya, herself, presents as confident and speaks eloquently on her own behalf. “Let me tell you why,” she says at one point.
Yet she remains a teenager, wearing the fashionable tight t-shirt and jeans popular with those her age. Hope — and fear — radiate from her face in spite of her confident attitude.
I listen to her and her family.
She wants a local diploma, but she doesn’t find her resource room class helpful. And she breaks her own heart every time she fails a Regents or Regents Competency Test. I recommend Team-teaching classes. They agree. Listening to — and encouraging — her, I help her to recommit to finishing her education.
“I’m tearing up,” her mother says.
The meeting ends. I walk them to the office door, and we say our farewells. Then I return. Sit down. And breathe at last.
young woman leaving behind
her little girl ways
more by FRANK J. TASSONE
photograph by Angelina Litvin