Monday, July 6, 2015

The Sharknado of students

Remember Lonnie?  I'm sure you'd love to forget him like I would, but watching him is like watching a Syfy channel movie.  Sometimes you laugh, sometimes you're baffled, and sometimes it's just too excruciating to see to the end.

Since he’s “for real,” Lonnie is a terrible liar, and I mean that both in terms of skill and believability.  He skips class constantly or comes in late with excuses that are either jokes or insults to intelligence.  I started making a list of them, and once a week I sent the list to his mother and the assistant principal.  His excuses include:
  • ·         helping a student who was bleeding get to the nurse, “’Cause you know Miss, my uncle was a fireman, so I’m cool under pressure like that”;
  • ·         doing a favor for Mr. Fleet, the assistant principal whom I know he’s never met because Mr. Fleet has been on medical leave since the first month of school;
  • ·         finishing up a test in his dance class (which is held two periods before my class);
  • ·         talking to his counselor about a schedule change, because she reportedly thinks he’s “too smart” to be in my remediation class. 

That last excuse was the worst, mostly because I saw him walk in from the parking lot with his “pass.”

Catching Lonnie in a lie has absolutely no effect on him. What’s astounding is not that he acts shocked that you don’t believe him (he doesn’t), but that he’s not even embarrassed. Most students who get caught in a lie respect themselves enough to attempt to maintain the charade. He seems to wonder why I even bother to call him out. It’s just what he does.

Is he the worst behaved kid in class?  No, but he’s definitely the most tiresome. On days that he shows up, by the end of class I feel drained of energy and IQ points.

The thing I dislike about Lonnie the most is his habit of latching onto the “weaker” kids.  Lonnie seeks out the kids who aren’t very bright, who are intellectually and emotionally immature.  Then he starts paying a lot of attention to them, talking to them and telling them they’re funny or cool.  For one reason or another, these targets of his attention typically don’t have a lot of friends, and they’re flattered by his sudden interest.
He began palling around with Eric the first part of the year and told everyone they were best friends.  The more Lonnie lurked around Eric, the more Eric’s grades dropped, the less he accomplished in class, and the more he and Lonnie seemed to be absent until Eric failed the first term.  At that point, Eric told me he planned to work hard and pass the class. Could I move him to another seat, he asked so that he could avoid Lonnie? I sat him with Chandra, one of the most vocal Lonnie objectors in the class. She and her friends “circled the wagons” with Eric in the center, effectively freezing Lonnie out. By the end of the term, Eric raised his grade to passing.

Lonnie sometimes tries to work his charm on me by telling me I’m his favorite teacher. I always reply, “Really?  That’s sad.”  I usually stare at him blankly when he starts speaking to me.  Then I’ll either turn away like I don’t hear him or just say “no” to whatever he asked.  No is usually the appropriate answer, anyway. 

“Ms. Marlow, you want to know something?”


“Ms. Marlow, can I go to the bathroom?”


“I’ve got to go talk to the counselor.”


“Why are you so uptight, Ms. Marlow?”

Long pause, then “no.”

“No, what? No, you’re not uptight?” He’s snickering.  I quickly start writing out an office referral slip, which I hand to him.

“That’s a good question for the assistant principal.” 

“I was just kidding!”

“No.  Explain it to him when you get to the office.”

A good day is when Ronnie ends up in ISS, which he frequently does, or when he decides to skip class.  A bad day is when he’s there.  Probably the best day would be the day I find out he’s moved or transferred out of my class. 

“When I’m infamous, Miss, y’all are going to tell everyone y’all knew me,” he informed me and whoever was listening one day. 

“Don’t you mean famous, Lonnie?” I asked in a dull monotone.

“Naw, Miss, INFAMOUS is way BIGGER than famous!  You a teacher and you ain’t even know that?”

I reached for the referral pad, when I realized that sadly, he wouldn’t even reach that level.  Odds are he’ll end up in his parents’ basement, unemployed and drinking himself to death.  He’ll definitely be alone.

For those who think I’m being too harsh, check out my final installment in the Lonnie series, when I tell you about Parker and what happened with the two of them.