Friday, December 10, 2010

My Buddy Dook

Dook is a senior in our high school.  He's a character...a good old boy with a big old heart.  He's a hard worker if you hand him a set of tools, but NOT so much when it comes to academic endeavors.  Dook and I have an interesting relationship.  Most mornings, if I'm out and about when he walks in, he throws his arm around my shoulder and says, Good morning, Mrs. Southern...I love ya.   Sometimes he growls at me like a bear.  I growl back.

Since Dook is 18, he can sign himself in and out of school.  For the first few weeks, he played fast and loose with the coming and going and got behind in his work.  At that point, I started laying down the law and giving him a hard time.  We had a few rocky weeks.  Finally one morning I was OVER it...worn slap out.  Dook loves coming to the office and that particular day he stuck his head in my door about 9 a.m. and declared, Mrs. S...I'm signing out at 1:30.  It was time for some tough love, so I turned in my chair and replied, You know what Dook, why don't you go on and sign out now.  If you don't care, I just GIVE UP.  You're not a child.  You're practically a grown man and if you don't WANT to do what it takes to graduate in May, I apparently can't make you. 

He went back to class.

Two days later, my door was closed, so he went to my secretary and said, Will you please go tell Mrs. S. that I'm signing out at 1:00?  She came around the back way to tell me and I replied, Go back and tell him that I said "whatEVer."  I heard a growling sound through the door, but he went back to class and we had four really good weeks.

Around noon today, Dook was at my door.  He started with, Mrs. S...you know I've been working really hard on my school work and I haven't signed out a single time lately.  I'm going to leave now.

Dook, I said, I know you've been working hard and I am VERY proud of you, but it's Friday and school is out at 3:00.  What in the world do you have to do between now and 3:00 that is so important?

Well, he countered pointing to his lower left jaw, these teeth have been bothering me when I eat anything hot or cold so I'm going to the dentist.

(Dook is not a good actor...)

Belle:  What time is your appointment?

Dook:  Well (pause) I don't exactly have an appointment.  I need to call.

Belle:  Come on over here and use my phone.  I don't think you're going to get a last minute appointment on a Friday afternoon but if you CAN get one, I won't give you any grief about leaving.  I wouldn't want you to suffer with a toothache all weekend.  That would be TERRIBLE!!! I'd worry about you ALL weekend long.

(I, on the other hand CAN act...)

Dook:  Well (pause) I don't have the number...it's at home.

Belle (getting tired of the "wells"):  For pete's sake Dook, what's the dentist's name...I'll look up the number for you.

Dook (putting his hand on the jaw again):  Mrs. S...I know it's hard to believe (he looks up at the ceiling) but I can't remember the name of the dentist.  Besides, I need to make sure it's OK with my mama if I go.

ME:  Come on and call her.  She'll know the name of the dentist.  Get the good word from her and we'll call for that appointment.

Dook:  MRS. S....OK...PLEEEZE let me leave early because I've REALLY BEEN WORKING HARD!!!

Belle (all shocked like):  Dook, are you telling me that you do NOT have a toothache????

Dook (looking at the floor):  No ma'am. 

ME:  You almost had me there, pal.  Tell you what...let's split the difference.  You can sign out at 1:30.

He growled.

I growled back, but I was really smiling inside.  Apparently, Dook has forgotten that I can't MAKE him stay if he really takes a mind to leave. 

At 1:30, I was standing in the hall as he blazed by on his way out of the door.

Dook:  Love ya, Mrs. S

ME:  Right back atcha, Dook. 

That boy is going to get a high school diploma on May 31, and I'm going to be the one handing it to him, probably through tears.  The only person in that room who'll be more proud will be his mama.

9 comments:

  1. man!! How awesome!! That makes it all worth it, doesn't it?

    ~Beth

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  2. What a great story! It is students like Dook that make being a principal worthwhile. Not your "average" student, but one you grow to love so much!!! I'm sure he would be the kind of guy who would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it. Be sure and let us know about his graduation later this spring. Have a wonderful weekend. Love & blessings from NC!

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  3. You were meant for this job! You have his best interest in mind. Thank you for caring for these students!

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  4. Bless your heart. I love it.

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  5. After reading this story, it brought tears to my eyes. I was one of those gals in school that thought I didn't need to stay either. I wanted to be out there in the real world.. Now I am 47 and would give anything in this world to have gotten my degree, and went on to being a Doctor. So glad you are helping Dook, please stress to him, its important !! The most important thing he can do, so that later down the road of life, he is able to provide for himself and his family.

    Lisa

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  6. That is so great! I have my own Dook - in fourth grade! Actually, I call him my own Michael Oher Junior.

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  7. Great story!! We seriously need to meet and share strategies. I might try to get permission to visit your school and observe BIA. {Belle in Action} Sound good?

    I apparently was confused as to the type of students that are enrolled in your school. I thought all of yours were gifted, over-achievers. Dook sounds like the kids I talk to every week! I have several who are 18 and we give them pure he$$ every time they try to sign themselves out. We make them ask approx. 4 different people before they can finally sign out. Most of the time it's just not worth the trouble, and they stay. hehe

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  8. These are the kinds of stories that make me miss teaching! You are amazing, and I hope Dook knows how lucky he is to have a pricipal that actually cares!

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  9. This is probably the reason that I want to be a teacher! I love it!

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