Essay: Helping Eddie

Apr 17, 2020

Fresh out of college, I took a job teaching eighth grade English.  One of my classes was a group of students who were struggling, academically and socially—and I quickly discovered I was not prepared for this challenge.      


Especially not for Eddie.  Tall and slouched, Eddie was sixteen years old because he’d been flunked twice.  His vacant blue eyes scared me a little—but I wanted very much to help him.  

What I discovered was that Eddie needed more help than I could give.  He mumbled when he spoke and could barely write a sentence. Every day, he dropped his spelling book out the window or threw pencils across the room—anything to disrupt.  

I asked the science teacher how she coped with Eddie.  “I lock him in the supply cupboard,” she said. There was no supply cupboard in my room.

When school officials talked with Eddie’s parents, they insisted their son was fine—and refused to have him evaluated.  Then, he put a hat pin through another kid’s ear drum and was finally suspended from school. This wasn’t until May, however, and I was a wreck.  

I’ve thought of Eddie many times since then and wondered how his life turned out.  I wish we had found a way to reach him. I know the outcome could have been worse. It also could have been better.