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My son has started the fifth grade, and I couldn’t be prouder. Last spring, I wrote about my son’s challenges not being met in the third grade and how I had to advocate for him. Now that he is in a new school, this parent is happy to report another example of what happens when schools work with parents to meet the individual needs of the student and keep parents engaged.

Earlier this year, I got a call from my son’s fourth-grade teacher that he was being disruptive in class when it was time to do math. She described that he would be unfocused and uninterested in what she was teaching. But whenever she would call him to the board to do the math problem, he would get it right. She was very impressed, but then he’d go back to his seat and play with his pencil or whatever else was on his desk he could play with. This went on for a few months before I was notified of the problem. I immediately set up a conference with the teacher. She informed me that he passes the tests but does not complete the class work.

Come to find out my son was bored with the assignments. He didn’t find them challenging enough. The teachers put some fifth-grade work in front of him. Suddenly, he perked up and started asking lots of questions. It was obvious this was more his speed.

So, for the rest of the school year, when it was time for math, my son would leave his classroom and attend a fifth-grade math class. And he ended the school year successfully. This summer, was tutored on sixth grade math so he can learn it this year. I’m very grateful for the teachers at my son’s new school because they worked with him on all levels. That said, though, I do worry about the kids whose parents didn’t know to come in and advocate like I did.

All too often, Black boys are labeled as “disruptive.” Before assuming there is no hope, or that the child has a learning disability, every educator should take a deeper look at the individual child and their circumstance – regardless of whether the parent or family member comes in to ask them to. In my son’s case, he wasn’t being challenged enough. But when kids have an awesome teacher who’s willing to take that extra step, positive things can happen.

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