There’re High Standards, And Then There’s This…

, , , | Related | January 11, 2019

(My sophomore year of high school, I end up with two study hall periods. One of these periods takes place after lunch, in the guidance office. There are computers for students doing online courses; however, since I have none, I usually either get a pass to the library or I sit at a table and do work from other classes or read my book. This day, as the lunch bell rings, I enter and sit at my usual seat in the small office. After a few minutes, another student — a year above me — and who I assume is his sour-faced mother come storming in and sit at my table. The student looks nervous, so I give him a half smile, nod, and go back to my book.)

Mother: *sharply* “Nuh-uh. No games, [Student]. This is not the time to flirt.”

(I keep my head down, as does he. But since they’re in such close proximity I can’t help but overhear. A counselor and a history teacher come by and sit down on the other end of the table.)

Counselor: “Hello, Mrs. [Last Name], [Student]! So, what’s going on?”

Mother: *pulling out a stack of papers* “I was on [Student]’s [online grade book portal] and this is completely unacceptable. Look at this! *jabs at something on the top piece of paper* “An 84? In history? Is this the latest updated grade?”

(She glares at the history teacher while her son seems to shrink in his chair. It’s worth noting that our school uses a basic grading scale: 100-90 is an A, 89-80 is a B, 79-76 is a C, 75-70 is a D, and anything below is a failing grade.)

Teacher: “Yes, it’s the most recent grade. However, what is probably bringing it down is our [project] that has three sections, and we are now working on the second section. The third, uncompleted, section currently shows up as a zero because we haven’t gotten that far yet. Since projects generally make up about 15% of the overall grade, yes, it has brought everyone’s grade down. However, once we go over the materials to complete each section, everything should go back to normal by the end of the nine-week grading term. [Student] is one of my best students, and he’s doing very well. I don’t really think there is any reason to be concerned.”

Mother: *almost screeching* “An 84 is unacceptable! We are not trying to teach our son that failure is okay! There has to be something we can do! Is there any extra credit work or tutoring?!”

Teacher: “Well, I don’t usually offer extra credit until the end of the semester, but I am here Tuesdays and Thursdays for after school tutoring. [Student] is welcome to come by if he’d like. However, he seems to grasp all of the material, and I’m not really sure of any places that he needs additional help.”

Mother: “He will be there Tuesdays and Thursdays. What about in the morning? If he gets to school early, can he do more tutoring then?”

Teacher: “If I’m here, yes, I don’t mind.”

Counselor: “We open the doors for students as early as 7:15. The bell rings for first period at 8:15. The school day ends at 3:30, and students are allowed to stay for tutoring, but must be under the supervision of an adult. Most of our teachers leave about 4:30.”

Mother: *firmly, icily* “He will be there. How does this affect his football and academic scholarship prospects?”

Counselor: “Well, he has an A in everything else, and this one B- which admittedly is temporary. It shouldn’t be a problem. Usually, there are no red flags until a student starts getting Ds. He is a very good student, and many teachers speak highly of him. It’s just a slight bump, but I don’t think there will be any damage to his record.” *winks at student and smiles*

Mother: *stiffly* “Thank you.”

(The teacher and mother shake hands, and once the counselor and teacher have walked away, the mother starts hissing at her son, who has been silent the entire time.)

Mother: “An 84. An 84! I did not work my a** off for you to be running around with your little friends, flunking school, and embarrassing me! I’m taking your car, your phone, and your TV privileges. And don’t expect to be going out anywhere until your grades meet par! This is absolutely ridiculous that I have to take off of work to come and get you in line. You are risking your college prospects and your future! No decent job is going to want to hire a good-for-nothing high school dropout! I have half a mind to have your coach start giving you laps to run every day! Then maybe we’ll see…”

(She continued to berate him as they leave the office. Her venom had even startled me. I’m not really sure what happened after that, but the student was named valedictorian when he graduated.)

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