There's actually been more than one that got away. There are too many children that get away and that's the problem. This is about the first One that got away from me and had the biggest impact on me. This is the first one that got away with dropping out that made me feel absolutely gutted.
A came to my class from an alternative placement school in middle school. He entered my classroom in the second trimester in one of the smallest classes I've ever had. There were twelve students on the roster, but eight regularly showed up. He was one that regularly showed up because he was ordered to by truancy court by November when the second trimester began.
A is a brilliant artist. He drew amazing pictures, some of which are still displayed in my room. He had a knack for drawing while reading and creating truly vivid visualizations of the text. When we began reading Romeo and Juliet, I had the students draw what they thought Queen Mab looked like. I can't draw at all, but I shared my horrible drawing with my tiny class. And then A shared his and everyone stared in awe. Unfortunately, I don't have that one anymore. He asked to take it and I let him.
A is very good with cars. He's might be one of those guys that can listen to the engine and tell you the problem. I don't know enough about cars to tell exactly how good he was, but he blew me and most of his classmates away.
A is a high school drop out. I first realized there was a problem when my class was the only one he was passing. He wasn't just passing. He had an A. A very, very high A. When I asked him what the problem was in the other classes, he told me "I like you," as if that settled the matter. When I asked him what that was supposed to me he replied "I, you know, don't want to let you down." It occurred to me then that I was the only person he didn't want to let down. The school year went on and he continued to do well in my class. I bugged him enough about his other classes that he put forth some effort and managed to scrape by with some passing grades.
Next year started and I noticed A's name was popping up on the discipline list. The discipline list is how students are called down for various infractions that their assistant principal deals with. A's name started popping up more and more often on the Due in ISAP list, too. Then, one day I checked the Due in ISAP list and saw his name under the Withdrawn section. I have access to the information of my current students and the students I had the previous year. I quickly looked up A's information to see where he transfered to. I checked and saw "Withdrawn - Drop out - 16 or older".
I should have stayed on him. I should have sought him out in the school for his sophomore year. I should have told him I still cared. I should have been there for him. Instead, he's the one that got away. Others have followed after him, but he was the first one where I truly felt at fault. I didn't go the extra mile and now he won't walk for graduation from high school. Sometimes I wish that I could find him and encourage him, but his profile says that his last whereabouts are unknown.