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There was an incident that occurred this summer that grabbed my attention and has not quite let go. I got a call from someone who told me that I needed to check in with a student who had left SAUSD last year and ventured off to college out of the area. When I did, I spoke with a student in crisis. A young man who was devastated and convinced he had made a fatal error – terminating his opportunity to continue on in school. I did the first thing that came to my mind and bought him tacos. Right? They solve all problems…or at least help calm nerves as we talk through them.
What was the “fatal error”, you might ask? He had left a box empty on a scholarship renewal form. As year two was set to begin, he received notice that his form was incomplete and the scholarship would not be renewed. In a blink of an eye, his housing went away. When he called home, he was consoled and reminded that he could always come home. But, leaving school was not what he wanted. Long story short: Like most Santa Ana students, he dug deep…he reached out…he leveraged his network…and he figured out a way to stay in school. I could not be more proud of this young man. But, the situation left in me with a ton of questions – most importantly: When do we let go?
This past week, I had the opportunity to visit with SAUSD graduates in their college environments and talk with them in groups and individually about the transition to college and what it takes to find their place away from home. I was scheduled to be in Boston for meetings at the Harvard School of Education and it didn’t take much to arrange travel so as to accommodate a few visits. As I visited Boston, DC, and New Haven, SAUSD grads welcomed me to their campuses, showed me their new homes, and shared about their individual challenges over burgers. In total, this trip involved 14 SAUSD grads, from four SAUSD high schools, attending one of seven universities. The conversations were so rich, that I am afraid I did not do a great job capturing pictures – but here are a few.
I learned a great deal about our kids who travel far for college and I hope to share those stories over time with everyone who contributes to helping them get ready for this life adventure. I also intend to do something about some of the issues they addressed during our dialogue (more on that in a later post). In the meantime: Remember to reach out and touch base with our kids while they are at school. They really want you (us) to do that and they are not sure how to ask. Make a call, send a text, or send an email. It is much more personal than a “like” on Facebook. They are not quite ready for us to let go of them.