Time for some positivity on AtoZ! Despite nearly driving me nuts I had one girl in particular whose life I impacted perhaps more than I ever have before. She got in trouble early in the year. It wasn't so much a school issue as a social/parent issue. It was a big issue, like about as big a middle schooler should ever encounter big. Her parents wanted her out of school. She didn't. Our compromise was that she'd spend lunches and passing periods with me. This led to tons of time to talk about life. We'd make progress, she'd mess up, we'd talk it out, she'd mess up, etc. This went on literally all year. By the last month one final (and even bigger mistake) left me ready to quit on her entirely. How could a child whom I'd spend so much time on blow it so badly? AGAIN? I wrote up the papers to have her removed from my classes. Mom signed off, counselors signed off. She begged to stay. I said no. Then a weekend passed. On Monday I told her the only way she could come back is if she read and recited an apology to her classmates. I'd read about this happening in a charter school described in Tony Wagner's The Global Achievement Gap. She said she'd do it. All week she was noticeably (and rightfully) stressed. When the day came I told her she could wait. She said "No, I'm doing this." And she did. Wow, did she ever. By the end she was in tears, so was I and half the class. They all came up and hugged her one by one. We talked about the importance of caring for each other and not being afraid to tell a friend when they are doing something wrong. I've never seen a change in a person like I saw in her after that. Her mom, who didn't even know she had done it, called me and noted how differently she was acting at home. She was finally happy again. She saw her biggest challenge and not only met it but crushed it. The dramas of school were nothing compared to what she chose to go through.