As a counter to the 'gifted student' thread I thought I would start oen about those students who we have known who began with few or no life chances but made something of themselves. I'll start In my first year of teaching back in '90. A lad in my tutor group (home group in the US). It was a yr 10 (9th grade) class. In the UK our kids (at that time) finished school at the end of yr 11. He was not academic in any sense. I spent a whole semester trying to teaching him % in maths. He was in with a bad crowd and outside school was getting into trouble in minor crime and with the police. One day he came to see me. He wanted to apply for a weekend job at a motor mechanic's workshop and needed a reference from the school. I think the job was mainly valeting the cars before the customers picked them up. I wrote him a reference but also, without his knowledge, contacted the company to speak with the owner. I explained that this lad would be an extremely loyal and productive employee but he would need someone as a mentor to keep him on the straight and narrow. He got the job. 12 months later he left school. A couple of years after that he came back to see me. He was working full time at the autoshop. They had put him onto an apprentice scheme as a mechanic and he was earning a decent wage (for a lad his age) and learning a trade. He was away from the bad kids and keeping out of trouble. I have taught many really academic kids who have gone on to great things but he always sticks in my mind.