In truth, though, I believe it wasn't so much that I was patient and kind as that I was kind of meek and long-suffering,
The moderator of The Math Academy gave me two students to work with, two 6th-grade girls, with the warning that one of the girls was the worst-behaved student in the school. Yet there was a feeling of optimism among the staff because the girl, the least likely of students, wanted to be part of The Math Academy.
The girl turned out to be a too-fun-loving kid whose problem was that she always needed to be the center of attention. Much to the delight of those students who enjoyed her antics and fed her bad behavior by their laughter and acknowledgement, she was non-stop disruptive and teased, tormented, or otherwise distracted the children sitting around her,
In truth The Math Academy was a waste of time for this student, who was in dire need of a different, more serious kind of intervention. She certainly wasn't capable of doing the work required for The Math Academy and her presence was detrimental to the rest of the class. BUT...she did show up for every Math Academy class, and for this she was honored at the awards assembly at the end of the 8-week term. During the assembly the principal called the girl up to the stage and praised her for meeting his personal challenge to her: to participate in the The Math Academy with 100% attendance. This she had accomplished - to the surprise of everyone - and the principal was proud of her, the teachers were proud of her, the whole school was proud of her, and she certainly looked proud of herself and happy as could be as she received an award, a special T-shirt, and a standing ovation from the school. And though I'd been at my wits' end trying to control this wild child, still indubitably the worst kid in the school, I, too, stood and applauded for her shining moment of under- achievement.
The other night I found myself thinking of that shining moment of my little Math Academy student from all those years ago as I watched Donald Trump receive voluminous praise for his mediocre but surprising accomplishment of standing before Congress and reading a speech from a teleprompter in a civil tone of voice without indulging in his usual misbehavior. The content of his speech may have been the same garbage as we're used to receiving from the current occupant of The White House, but this time it was whip-cream-covered garbage, and it was nicely delivered, the delivery looming larger for some than the content, anyway.
But to those out there who are cheering Donald Trump for his shining 90 minutes of under-achievement, don't be too deflated when he goes back to the usual antics of the worst kid in the middle school.