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Curtis, a gifted artist, is a 12th-grade African-American boy in my English class. He is tall and very dark-skinned, and he does not associate with any of the other African-American males on campus. His close friends at school are all female.

Curtis is mostly on track to graduate and he wants to go to college to study art. That is a scary place for him though because he has not had many opportunities in high school to develop a portfolio or his skills with different mediums. He does well in humanities classes but struggles with math and science. He is missing two semesters of science and hates to be reminded that he has to do well in the twilight program where he is making up those courses.

Curtis likes to read and often uses drawing as a way to process text. When asked to use sensory details to complete his Life Timeline at the beginning of the school year, Curtis submitted 25 pages of sensory details and unbelievable sketches. At the same time, when students are tasked to do other heavier writing tasks, Curtis goes through what he have called his “moments” where he shuts down, talks to himself about “these teachers” and then proceeds to complete the writing task in the way he wants to do it. He benefits from one-on-one attention to get him past these moments, and it usually means talking to him about how his day is going first before even diving into talking about the work.

Curtis’ emotions can be very much up and down and all over the place. They often go in a negative direction when he is triggered by factors like not being immediately successful or where he perceives he is being judged by his peers. He often feels like he is being judged even when a student is only asking him a clarifying question. He looks to teachers for approval constantly and relationships with grownups are very important to him. He appreciates being thought of as being more mature than his peers.

Curtis is not a disciplinary issue although some teachers have said he has an attitude with them, which is why he has been kicked out of classes a few times.

DMU Timestamp: May 11, 2020 21:16

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