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“Take This Note and Go Straight to the Principal’s Office!”

By Melony Pugh-Weber
Reprinted from the Touchstone Support Team Letter, October 2006.

“O.K. everybody, get to class on time. I’ll see you next week.” The girls gathered up their things and filed out into the loud hallway that was quickly filling with students. One girl paused to hand me a folded piece of paper. I smiled and told her how glad I was to have her with us today. For some reason, I felt as though I should wait until she had left the room before I read it. Dee was not a regular member of the group. I had never even met her until this morning.

Earlier, I had been taking hall passes around so that the teachers would remember to send the girls to their CiViL Group meeting. Classes had begun, so the hall was mostly clear and quiet, until I heard a teacher say to a student standing just outside the classroom, “Take this note and go straight to the principal’s office.” I could not make out her response to the teacher’s demand, but I could hear the tone was defiant and frustrated. I walked the direction of the angry exchange taking the same stairwell the girl had taken. She was walking far enough ahead of me to already be at the principal’s door. But as I turned into the stairwell, I saw her standing on the landing just below me, crying.

“Hey, what’s happened? What’s wrong?” I know to keep my tone of voice soft and caring, otherwise these students just think you are being nosey. She answered, “I know I cause trouble in that class, but this time I really didn’t do it. The teacher sent me out because I told her I didn’t understand something.” I knew immediately that there was more to the story. I helped her dry her eyes and catch her breath. I told her that I would go with her to the office. I found out on the way down that she was a ninth grader. The Freshman Academy principal’s office already had others waiting. I briefed the principal’s assistant and asked if I could take her with me to the CiViL Group meeting that was just about to begin. She responded, “Absolutely,”

On our walk back upstairs, I explained who I was and how CiViL Groups is at Stratford to help keep students on track in dealing with emotional and relational distractions. Lack of intelligence is not the cause of most of the problems at Stratford and many other schools. I believe the cause is the lack of emotional support and maturity. She was agreeable to come into group even though, the others girls who were gathering for the meeting were eleventh graders. As the discussions opened into the hearts and lives of these girls, I detected an interest and softening in Dee. The other girls included Dee and she let me draw her into the sharing. The group went well. It is always good to get a, “Aww, it’s time to go already?” moan when the bell rings.

The room was cleared and I unfolded the paper and read . . .

Thanks for helping me.

That’s all it said, but that was enough. That day, I did my job. She felt understood and cared for. Dee could have stayed in the stairwell, hiding behind her angry tears. I want her to know that she is loved and respected and that she can ask for help.