A 26-year-old teacher has adopted her most ‘troublesome’ student and his little brother, and hopes to turn their lives around for the better.
Chelsea Haley met Jerome Robinson, a young student who experienced difficulties at school, while working with Teach For America, in 2013.
The fourth grader was Haley’s ‘most troublesome’ student, having been suspended numerous times for misbehaviour. But the pair developed an ‘unlikely bond’, so much so, other teachers would send Robinson to Haley.
Despite their closeness, Haley said, Robinson’s behaviour nearly drove the young aspiring teacher to quit the education system – and she described getting a lot of ‘thank you notes and knocks on my door’ from other desperate teachers of his.
But as her two-year experience with Teach For America was drawing to an end, she was asked to ‘stick around’ by the school’s principal for Robinson’s sake.
Robinson and his little brother, Jace, lived in poverty with their grandparents and birth mother, who shared care for the two boys.
The family had recently suffered the bereavement of two other close relatives, and was going through hard times, CNN reports.
Haley recalled how her young daughter had passed away, adding:
It was really hard on her after she lost her husband. It was just a combination of tragedy coupled with the other social situations you face when you live in poverty.
[Jerome and Jace] spent a lot of time living with their grandparents.
That night, she recalls, she had a dream and felt God was telling her she was destined to be his mother – but laughed out loud at the idea, which she thought at the time was preposterous.
Uncannily, the very next day Robinson looked up from a test paper and asked Haley whether he could live with her. The pair went to Jerome’s mother the next day to talk.
Haley, who had been planning to move to Georgia, recalled:
He just asked me if he could live with me. I told him I had been feeling the same.
[His mother said] ‘You can go… but I want you to take Jerome and Jace with you.’
So Haley did, and within months had adopted the two boys. The family now resides in Marietta, Georgia, and is thriving more than ever.
Haley told CNN:
At certain points, his behaviour got so bad, I thought, ‘I can’t do this anymore. I can’t be a teacher’. He used to fail all of his classes and didn’t care… now, he’s made honor roll both quarters of his eighth grade year so far.
I never thought I’d be a single mom at age 24, especially of two boys, one of which was my 12-year-old student. And the other one who was only a year-and-a-half.
I wouldn’t trade this for anything.
Robinson hasn’t been suspended from school since. He’s planning to continue with his good grades and go to college one day.
Teach For America is a nonprofit that helps ‘strengthen the movement for educational equity and excellence’ within low-income schools, the organisation’s mission statement reads.