Friday 4 March, 2011:
The first and funniest person I have to deal with today is Elroy Alesi (new to school, new to tutor; the guy Inia knows). He’s been leaving a trail of mayhem in his wake since his arrival here, upsetting teachers and students alike. Elroy’s already been stood down once (for fighting) and has clocked up a string of pastoral comments as long as your arm. Teachers have been emailing me about him: he refuses to do work; goes in and out of class at will; has no equipment; doesn’t listen… the list goes on. One states that he told her he only came to school to smoke buds and kick it with his friends (not that he has a great many as yet – the kids I know are of the opinion that he needs to kick back and stop trying to be hard.) And his English teacher emails to say that if he doesn’t write her a letter of apology, he will not be admitted to her class next week.
After all that, I determine to speak to him in tutor. I’m not very sure he’ll arrive (his attendance is pretty hit and miss across the board), so I send out my ‘spies’ (Inia and Andre) to bring him in. And at the start of assembly, Inia reins him in and delivers him to me. He comes in looking very friendly and ‘innocent’ (though I’m sure he knows damn well what’s coming!) In fact he reminds me of no-one as much as Nio – which makes me laugh.
“Oh… here you are!” I say. “Come on then Bizzy Bone, come and sit down by me – I want to talk to you.” (The kids call him and his three brothers ‘Bone Thugs’: “Cos there’s a fat one, a big one, a skinny one, and a little one…” explains Noa to me, making me snort with laughter.)
At that he grins, and comes over immediately and pulls up a chair.
“Ok – what’s up with you then?” I ask.
“What do you mean?” enquires Elroy.
I sigh. “How many weeks have you been here, at this school… Elroy?”
“Three,” says he, quite hopefully.
“Three,” I agree. “And look at all these things teachers have been writing about you!” I bring up the list of pastorals, and run my hand along the screen.
“Oh!” says Elroy. “Are those all bad?”
“We-ell…” I say. “None of them are what I’d call good,” and he smiles at me.
Inia and Andre are standing there listening. I say, almost rhetorically, “And did you really tell Mrs Kroeger you only came to school to smoke buds?” and everyone, including Elroy, starts to laugh.
“It was a joke,” he says, quite truthfully no doubt.
“Well, I’m sure you thought it was funny – but Mrs Kroeger didn’t.”
“No, I don’t think she did either,” replies Elroy. “I think she’s kind of straight,” he adds in a helpful way.
We discuss several other things, and he writes the letter for English; and he really doesn’t have any stationery or equipment, so I give him four 1B5’s and a pen. He wears the most good-natured expression on his face throughout the entire proceedings. Doubtlessly this won’t be the last of it, though. I can imagine he will take a bit longer to ‘adjust’ to school.
By now Zion has joined us. He point blank refuses to go to the year 10 class where he’s meant to be; he’s polite, obstinate, and silent. Only his eyes plead with me. I try to locate Marjorie – she’s at a meeting. I mail Zion’s teacher – she tells me he hasn’t been to a single one of her classes this term.
I can’t force him to go (and besides, I don’t want to take that tack with Zion). So he stays with me, while the others head off to class. He sits there and does beautiful, amazing drafts for project. Elroy (who comes back in at the start of lunch) says, “Man… this guy could make money!”
Eventually Marjorie replies – by then it’s almost lunchtime. Her response is fairly brief; even curt: Zion (I know not why) will not be allowed to change back to year 11. And, while Marjorie thanks me for my ‘caring attitude’ and ‘understanding’ – she also tells me I must not ‘accommodate’ Zion in future. She’s made her decision and will not change it, at least for the moment. She also implies that I am not in possession of certain salient information (which Marjorie apparently has in her possession).
I don’t know… I think Marjorie is just pulling rank. But I’m very careful with my reply. I say it’s her decision, and that I understand. But I also clearly state that I have not been ‘accommodating’ Zion, and that I would have taken him straight to Marjorie, if she had not been at a meeting. And I leave it at that.
Personally, I don’t think there’s any big secret ‘reason’ why Zion has to do year 10 again. I don’t think there are any salient facts about it, except that they want him to shoot himself in the foot. He won’t go to class, and I think that if he roams around long enough; he’ll be out for ‘continual disobedience’ (the usual refuge of the management when they really don’t have another case to bring against a student). Zion’s just becoming a bit too hard for school to pigeonhole, and I think they wanna prove that, with no interference from me.
So – I’ve been told – that’s for sure.