04/24/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Scoring in School

The second Wednesday that we met together she started crying midway
the session. Crying! Not boo-hoo crying, but sniffle crying. She was
sitting there in front of me crying, tears silently streaming down the
of her face, eyes puffy, when I realized that her teachers hadn't really
pushed her before. There was no way -- this was as non-strenuous as an
academic exercise could get. We were plotting points on a graph.

[(2,2) - Point to the 2 on the bottom. Point to the 2 on the top. Bring
your fingers together until they meet. Make a dot with your pencil.]

She is a very intelligent girl. Whatever academic struggles she has
caused by any learning disability or lack of innate ability; far from it --
I'd venture to say they're caused by it. She's smart enough to fool
into accepting less. She's a pro at just barely missing the answer, just
close enough that someone might accept it, correct her and move on. When
she doesn't know an answer, she'll launch into one of her stories,
with words, not letting you get a word in edgewise. She's a charming

[Charlie and Sharon have three cats and two fish. Cats cost $1.10 to feed
each day. Fish cost $0.45 to feed daily. How much will it cost for
and Sharon to feed their pets for one week?]

One time I wanted a dog but my mama made me get a fish instead and at
I didn't like it but then I sorta liked it and we had to feed him
just like this fish here and then he died and we hadda flush him down the
toilet and also I have a friend name Charlie he live down the street and
don't have no cats he got a dog and one time it tried to bite me and I
all-way-cross the street to get away from him and I was soooo tired that
time. "Right," I'll say, "Wonderful. So I think we may need to multiply
this time."

[Read the paragraph before answering the following questions. Why did the
Pilgrims come to America? What did the Pilgrims do to entertain

It started some Wednesdays ago when I was passing through the Mad Ants
offices to pick up some mail, when I nearly stepped on a 7-year-old that
was walking out of one of the rooms. (They're small. I'm big. It happens
from time-to-time.) It turned out that one of the many community outreach
programs that they had was an after-school tutoring program for local
The Mad Ants organization is very busy in the community -- we've got
partnerships with local schools, businesses, churches, children's
pretty much any group with a roof and a door. This is the reason we lead
the league in attendance despite an admittedly lackluster record. I've
always enjoyed this sort of thing, so I sat in on a session with our PR
director (Thanks Heidi!) and ended up being more active than I originally

[Connect all the dots that you have plotted on the graph. What geometric
shape do you see?]

I was able to come to a few more sessions, and though we've only had a
short time together, finishing up a little homework, I feel we made
progress. Any problems she has in math or social studies stem from a lack
of reading comprehension. Any problems with reading comprehension stem
a lack of focus and attention to detail. That comes from someone making
do it. All she needs -- like we all do sometimes -- is a coach.
Since I have coaches of my own I haven't been able to make as many
as I've wanted to -- Wednesday is often a travel day. I haven't seen her
over a month. I worry I'm not helping enough. Lack of stability can
the learning process.

[Reread the previous 660 words. Was it worth it? Did you make a
Reflect and answer.]

They told me that she's been asking about me. Even though I brought a few
tears out of her, she's wondering where I've been. I'm happy about my
little victory but saddened at it's fleeting nature. The season is
coming to an end. So, too, will our time together. Luckily for the two of
us, though, there's always a couple more Wednesdays waiting around the