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I had taught school in Virginia several years. I was assistant principal. I often observed the kids in the younger classes and thought someday I will teach that child. There was a young boy named Joe. Joe was in the office pretty often in some kind of trouble. I dreaded the year I had Joe. I might have prayed the Lord to return before he was in my class.

Well, you know the rest of the story. Jesus did not come back and the year came that Joe made it to the class I taught. Joe was smart but he seemed to always find trouble. I started praying that God would help me touch Joe in a special way. Sure enough trouble was Joe’s middle name. I prayed for Joe. I decided to make a home visit to better understand Joe.

As I got out of my VW Beetle I noticed the dog’s tail drooping and the dog would not hold up his head. I knocked on the door and Joe’s mom opened and welcomed me. She kept her head bowed low and not even a little smile. She seemed defeated. I walked in the trailer and Joe’s dad was screaming at the kids and his wife. They jumped to his commands. There was a case of beer to the right of his chair and 50 empty beer cans to his left. We visited and they made me feel welcome. The dad barked more than the dog did. They invited me to stay for supper. I declined. The dad yelled and screamed the whole time. I UNDERSTOOD JOE MORE THAN EVER!

We visited. Joe and his mom walked me out to the car. I started driving to my house. I started crying for Joe and his family. I said: GOD, HOW CAN I HELP JOE? My wife and I discussed what an opportunity I had before me. Joe needs me.

I must develop a plan. I started giving Joe ice cream money. You should have seen him enjoying the ice cream. One day I said: Joe would you like to stay behind and wash the chalk board? Joe and I would laugh and visit. He soon began volunteering to stay behind and wash the chalk board. I bragged on Joe. I told Joe, I believe he washed the chalk board better than any student prior to him. We talked and he apologized for going to sleep in class. He said mom and dad fought all night and he protected the younger kids. If Joe went to sleep I let him. I understood. I started laying my hand on his shoulder and I would brag on him. He was like a turtle pulling out of the shell. One teacher said I see a difference in Joe and she bragged on him. The one on one attention changed Joe’s behavior and attitudes. JOE NEEDED ME… I NEEDED JOE.

One more trouble. Joe was sent to me in the office, seems after all this Joe had been kissing a pretty girl. He was sent to the office for correction. I told Joe you have not been in trouble for a long time what happened? JOE SAID: A MAN HAS TO DO WHAT A MAN HAS TO DO! I inquired what does that mean. A girl in the class was selling squares of leather 4 pieces for a quarter. A boy in the class offered Joe a quarter to kiss the prettiest girl in the class. Joe said I had to buy the leather. He would not tell me why. I pressed him and he answered: to make you a pouch for aChristmas present. Joe was willing to go to the office to make me a present. Later he borrowed my stapler and glue and he made me a little leather pouch. I still have it 45 years later.


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