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(by Sharon Withers as told to Becky Cerling Powers)

The first time Manny walked into my classroom, I knew immediately that I had a huge problem on my hands. He came into my life during the 1980s when I taught a special fifth grade class for underachievers who had failed standardized testing. My task was to bring them up to passing level. My students had normal intelligence but struggled in school because of emotional and other problems or a poor grasp of English.

The school was located in a deteriorating neighborhood in central El Paso, and Manny came from a family embroiled in drugs and alcohol. His older brothers were in a gang, and Manny was attracted to gang life. He used to write gang signs on his papers and on his hands. (more…)

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