This year Concentric has worked with Baltimore City Schools, in particular the Re-Engagement Center and Excel Academy to find students who have dropped out or faded out of the system. During the course of our work, we have conducted over 3,000 home visits and have seen, heard, and experienced firsthand why many young people are no longer in the school system.
While many of the young people we have encountered have compelling stories, a handful has stood out. Today I visited a young man whose story I had to share with you. Please read and let me know your thoughts. Have a great day.
“Will you be my mentor?” was the question that a Baltimore City teenager asked me today while I was conducting home visits for disengaged students that we’re trying to re-engage and get back in school. Approximately 2000+ students have been withdrawn or dropped out of school this year in Baltimore City. This young man was one of them. At first, he was a bit apprehensive to talk to me because he didn’t know who I was. Within the first 15 minutes of our meeting, he was compelled enough to ask me to be his mentor.
He shared with me his family issues and his daily struggles. He bluntly stated, “My childhood was snatched from me.” He’s currently 19 years old and he lives with his grandmother who is sick and in a wheelchair. His father is on drugs and not in his life. His mother died when he was 5 and his older brother was murdered three years ago. He was basically crying out for help when talking to me. He was very close to his brother and after he was murdered, the young man said his life spiraled downhill. He dropped out of school and was in the
streets. He doesn’t want to live the street life so he began rapping to express his emotions lyrically instead of violently. He let me listen to his music and he has talent. I could hear the hurt, anger, pain and struggle in his music. His music was a way for him to release his emotions and escape his daily struggles.
He was very respectful and transparent with me. He allowed me to listen to his music in his studio. He created his own studio in his room with a microphone, old computer, old speakers, and etc. His music sounded good. I asked him to burn me a CD with some of his songs and I listened to it all day while conducting my 30 home visits. He was shocked that I listened to rap music and liked his music. Lol.
As we were listening to his music, I asked him how many of his friends and family members have died due to gun violence and he shook his head and said, “Honestly, too many to count.” Smh. As I’m listening to
his story and thinking about how many homes that I visit and family members telling me that their child has died or is incarcerated is very disheartening to me. It hit me like a brick that a lot of children that have a similar story to this young man suffer from PTSD. I explained what it was to him and he agreed. He said he doesn’t have anyone to talk to about his emotions, feelings and nightmares.
This is the silent epidemic that’s occurring in inner cities that’s not being discussed nor addressed. These kids need counseling to deal with the terrible things they witness at such a young age. When they don’t get help they get lost in their dysfunctional and detrimental environment and feel lifeless. I told the young man that I will do my best to get him back in school, share his story, and try to help him with his music. He’s never been in a real studio so I’m going to try and make that happen for him. He was grateful and his grandmother encouraged him to get back in school and that would make her so proud. She thanked me for talking to him. This is why what we do is so important for school systems. It’s overwhelming for me because as an educated African-American male and father, I want to help and save all these kids. I pray every day that I will cross paths with those I’m meant to encourage and help get back into school. I pray that I was able to shine some light on this young man today. We need to pray for our children and keep them covered in prayer.
-David Heiber, Founder and Executive Director of Concentric Educational Solutions