One Caring Adult Can Make a Difference

Earlier this school year, I had a long conversation with a student who had been abandoned.
He was fourteen years old. His biological mother was not in his life. A guardian had adopted him, but when she had difficulty with him, she had convinced his biological father to take him back.
Now the dad was having trouble with him. So he left the boy with a neighbor, packed up and moved out of state. I had contacted DHS to let them know about the situation. But in the meantime, the boy was without a legal guardian, and his adopted guardian who also lived in another state was trying to convince this new family to house him.
When I sat down with the young man, we had a long conversation about his life. He had been in and out of multiple homes. When he was finally adopted, he felt like he finally had a home, but he soon began causing trouble for his guardian. Now he was sitting in my office trying to figure out what to do.
Behind the scenes, I had been on the phone with his father, his adopted guardian, and DHS as well as the local family who was housing him. The boy’s situation was a mess, but I wanted to help him make a decision about what was next.
After exploring his past together, his story reminded me of another young man named Josh Shipp. Josh had been a foster child in over a dozen homes growing up. But when he was a teenager, a caring couple set him on a new path. Josh has a presentation called “Every Kid is One Caring Adult away from being a Success Story” where he tells his own story. So I asked my student if he’d watch Josh’s video with me.
When we finished, we sat quietly for some time. Then I asked the following question:
“Who is the one caring adult in your life you would say has been your best support?”
“My adopted mom,” he replied. “But I don’t know if she’d have me back after all that I’ve done.”
To make a long story short, after several other conversations, his adopted mom arranged to fly him home where he could start over again. His chances are still tough as are the chances of all children in his situation, but a caring adult is the first step in helping troubled kids find the right path.


As you’re preparing for your next season of school, keep the power of your situation with students in perspective. With all the new hires, reports, and to do’s, don’t forget the power of each team member in your building to be a caring adult for your students. And of course, don’t forget the power you play in being a caring adult too.

Now It’s Your Turn

I want to encourage you to watch Josh Shipp’s presentation and share it with others. What are other resources you have for helping students who need a caring adult?

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William D. Parker
William D. Parker