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Wasted Lives

Brian of An Audience of One loves his job as a school administrator in Tulsa, Okla., because he can make a difference in the lives of students. Unfortunately, he can’t make their choices for them. One of his students—a 7th grader—was recently arrested and charged with murder. He wasn't a particularly difficult student, says Brian, but he lacked motivation:

I remember catching him in the hall a few months ago, asking him where he was supposed to be, listening to his lame excuses, putting my arm on his shoulder, and walking him to class. I told him that he was behind, needed to catch up on his schoolwork, that this was a ticket to a better life for him. He said to me, “that is for other people ... the smart people. I’m not one of them.” Standing in front of the classroom door I repeated to him what one of his teachers had told me ...that he was intelligent, how he had once gotten motivated and completed a large amount of work in a very short time. He didn’t reply, smiled, slapped me a high five and walked into class ...

I knew he hung with a bad crowd, that he lived on the streets, saw things that thirteen year old boys should not see, doing things he had no business doing. Apparently it was worse than I thought. I was shocked to hear of what he’d done. ...

Reflecting on the "senseless loss of life" and the prospect of the student going to prison, Brian laments, "What a damn waste."

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