Monday, January 16, 2012

Success Story

Jimmy was restless.  No matter what his teachers did, they could not keep him interested in the classwork.  Numerous calls to his parents did nothing but upset them as they did everything humanly possible to get Jimmy working in school.

When Jimmy turned 16 he did what he wanted, he legally left school.  His parents, teachers, and guidance counselors told him his life would be ruined without that little piece of paper.  He didn't care.  Jimmy liked the outdoors and was not afraid of hard work so when he was offered a job laying asphalt, he jumped at it.  It was hard work, unbearably hot in the warm summer months but he persevered.  He learned that he liked what he was doing and got interested in other construction projects.  Little by little he not only learned every job, he mastered them.

Jimmy is now approaching his 60th birthday.  He owns his own company and has 100 people working for him.  He just built an 8000 square foot house complete with two swimming pools, the inside one filled with salt water and a gym.  He also owns a house in Florida which he visits every 6 to 8 weeks and vacations in the Caribbean several times a year.  Jimmy is ready to retire but doesn't want to leave his workers in the lurch so he agreed to keep on for several more years, giving them a chance to find other employment.

Test scores weren't so important when Jimmy went to school but if they were, he would have been a major mark against the school he went to.  This shows how insignificant these statistics are.  Jimmy makes more money and has a better life style than the people that would have marked him a failure and he is probably doing a lot better than most of his classmates who went on to receive advanced education. 

Jimmy, well read and self educated happens to be one of the brightest people I have ever met.


Ricochet said...

School as defined is not for everyone.

Unfortunately for every success like Jimmy are a hoarde who hate work (plain and simple), drop out to live on their mama's couch.

My lifetime wish is to find that solution which fits each person.

ChiTown Girl said...

yeah...what Ricochet said.... :)

Sweet Girl Tracie said...

school was not for my uncle who dropped out of high school. Back in the 70's, I am sure that a lot of my uncle's difficulties in school were overlooked because a lot was not known back then. My grandparents had no idea what to do with him, he was always getting into trouble. But he found a career in culinary skills and went on to be chefs in many restaurants on Long Island.

Then he left the culinary field for a while and began his very successful taxi business and then opened up 2 restaurants on Long Island. (1 of the restaurant's was very successful but unfortunately, there was a fire 2 stores down from the restaurant, so it went all up in flames. The second restaurant was in a very particular and snobby neighborhood on Long Island. He and the other owner decided to focus on the other restaurant instead). During this time, he also got his GED since he never finished high school.

Anonymous said...

I've been reading your blog for a long time. Thank you for all your insights. Your story makes sense but certainly not for all. I often think of my father who received the equivalent of a fight grade education in Italy and was basically forced by my grandparents to learn how to bake bread. He did it for over 30 years while in America for six days a week. He has two homes, collects four rents and has over 70acres of land upstate to hunt and farm. But can everyone of our students who does decide to drop out be my father or Jimmy? I say the answer is most likely no! Unless they are PASSIONATE about a certain skill and love it so much they will do what it takes to get it. What Jimmy and my father did was very hard. I know my father went with out for most of that time - my sister and I had very little when we were children. We had the basics in terms of material goods. My parents have the same coffee table from when I was 15. I am 38 now. Many of today's children - not all - but many were brought up in a different type of world than my father and Jimmy. I enjoyed your post but am just reminded how complex education, the environment today's children grow up in and the mentality of today's youth is. Good bless.

burntoutteacher said...

I remember when I first started teaching at South Shore HS in Brooklyn in the late '80's, they were in the process of tearing out the wonderful shop rooms since they were no longer offering automotive repair, electronics, woodworking/carpentry, etc. That changeover from schools offering technical training to those who wanted it, to "everyone goes to college" was the single greatest harm (well, maybe after Bloomberg) done to the system. My auto repairman makes more money than I can ever dream of, the plumber who installed my new dishwasher last week got $130 for a half hour of work and was already behind on his calls for the day, I have yet to find an affordable electrician. The shops at South Shore, a giant school built in the '70's, were magnificent, and some of the seniors I had my first year were chafing at the bit to graduate not to start college but to start earning a living. (One student, at 17, was already making far more than I was driving a tow truck and utilizing the education he had gotten from his auto shop classes the prior years.) We need to offer these kids options, not push them to enroll in colleges that will cost them thousands, will often find them unprepared, will bore them with the same kinds of classes that they did poorly in in high school. That's why they drop out after a semester or two -- they are unprepared, unmotivated, unequipped, unwilling to spend a year or two taking remedial classes for a degree that will ultimately be as useful to them as their useless high school diploma is. I know that talk about tech programs from the past starts discussions about the ills of "tracking" but tweaking that system, not making a "one size fits all" education, is the answer. I am still grateful to the business teachers I had in high school (and I was in the honors academic program but was allowed to take classes out of my track) for teaching me to type as fast as I do and to take shorthand, skills that have helped me in so many ways all these years.