Charley’s World Episode Twenty-Two

What Charley learned from Sam and Gloria is that learning is enhanced when it is supported by connections. As Sam reflected on his own learning, he found that connected learning was often discouraged. Schools seemed to be paranoid about cheating. The assumption was when students learned together, they weren’t really learning. Charley had begun to see how wrong this was.

He began to wonder how that might apply to Richie, the youngest person in the Learning Center group of adult learners. Actually, Richie wasn’t technically an adult, but he was a better fit for the adult learner group than the younger groups.

When Charley got to know Richie, he discovered a very different person than what first impressions led him to believe. Richie came from a single-parent home. His mother was very ill, and Richie had to skip school often to take care of her. He had two younger siblings, and he became their primary caregiver. The family existed on Richie’s mother’s disability check. Richie’s greatest fear was the family would be separated by social services.

The more school that Richie missed, the further behind he got. Now that his siblings were able to do more at home, Richie was able to attend school more regularly. Still, school was a challenge because he was older than his classmates. He was a social misfit.

Richie had decided to join the adult learners in order to get caught up. He hoped to eventually graduate from high school, but once he learned about the GED program he felt that might be a better fit for him. He had yet to decide.

One thing that he realized about himself was that he was smart enough to do the work expected of a high school graduate. He had warmed up to his adult peers, especially Bea and Gloria, and more recently Sam.

Charley was unsure how he could help Richie. The one thing that he noticed about Richie was his sadness. His attitude was great but he just always seemed to be having a bad day. Charley wondered whether a young man such as Richie would be forever scarred by his early life.

Charley made a point to have one-on-one meetings with each of his adult learners to get to know them better. That’s how he found out about Richie’s family situation. In a follow-up meeting, Charley wanted to bring up his observation of Richie’s sadness. He knew that this could be a tough and delicate conversation. He was really concerned about Richie’s mental health.

The question that Charley decided to ask was: “What brings joy into your life?” Richie’s answer helped Charley enable a different life for Richie then he ever imagined.

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“Don’t give up because of one bad chapter in your life. Keep going. Your story doesn’t end here.” – Unknown