Saturday, March 19, 2011

Backup Plan

Several years ago, there was a student at the alternative school for at-risk teenagers that I made the mistake of accepting. At the time, students had to pass an interview process I supervised as the assistant principal. Soon after this particular student was enrolled, a problem became evident. The student had bigger issues than our small school could handle. These issues led to a crisis over several months that had the potential to take us down as a school. We survived, but I wouldn’t say unscathed; the relations among the staff were permanently damaged and there were health issues.

Fast-forward to present day. I see a list of the most popular internet search words of the day, and a name I thought I would always associate with stress is hanging out, right there in the middle of the list. No, it couldn’t be . . . click. What the? Problem Student is on American Idol.

I flashed to one of the hours Problem Student and I sat together in his mandated class of one. I was attempting to design a writing program for him, inquiring about his interests. He had big dreams. He either wanted to be a professional wrestler or a rock star. I was frustrated with the amount of staff time the kid was sucking up like soda. His dreams annoyed me. I was dreaming that he would be a fully functional adult with a job and an apartment. What I said to him was: you might want a backup plan.

I don’t keep up with American Idol, but I catch Problem Student when I can. Except now, he’s more like Best Singer Ever. At least that’s what the judges seem to be saying whenever I see the show. And yeah, he’s really good. Not necessarily my kind of music but talent you can’t deny. I cried the first time I watched him perform, only because I’m really happy for him. He’s the survivor of formidable challenges, the poster child for you-really-never-know. Funny that I was the one in need of a backup plan at the exact time Best Singer Ever followed his dream.

Next week, I would have officially run out of funds to afford the apartment without a full-time job. Next week is my first paycheck from my new full-time job. I could be making plans to move in with my parents, sending my daughters and extended family into chaos. I did not realize just how close it was. Strangely, there have been so many other things to worry about, I forgot about losing the apartment. Things can work out just in time. Sometimes, hope is the backup plan.



  1. Did you happen to watch AI this week? Your former student talked about having hope. Maybe that was his plan B.

  2. Serious? I love that. Thanks for sharing.