In a school populated with students struggling to keep emotions in check, Assistant Principal Shawn Dow at Pathways School in Belleville relies on one junior in particular to be a good example.
“With our group of students, a very simple foul or penalty can send them over the deep end,” Dow said of students at the school’s recreational time. But Brian Crawford gets fouled, stands up, shakes hands and moves on.
He’s learned better than to fuss or fight in his time away from his home school. His new mantra is to simply ignore.
“A lot of people irritate you,” Brian said. “If you ignore (them at school, then) the more you ignore it in other situations. The more calm I am here, the more calm I am anywhere.”
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Brian’s journey to Pathways came after a stay at the SAFE school, the alternative day program operated by the St. Clair Regional Office of Education, after being in a fight at a bus stop at Belleville East his freshman year. Dow says Brian is a “very mild mannered, shy kid, very introverted” and his coming to the school was from one incident. He’s never had a physical or verbal altercation at Pathways.
“He’s a great kid to have in the program to use as an example,” Dow said.
Dow says the staff at Pathways provides consistency and structure, linking character education and dealing with crises.
“It’s so layered, we’re hitting them from every angle,” he said. The process includes using real-life examples to help students figure out likely consequences of their actions.
Brian said learning to ignore was “something I had to figure out.”
“The main thing is people just keep talking and talking, I just don’t (react.). It’s just ignorable,” he said.
Brian expects to attend Belleville West his senior year.
A lot of people irritate you. If you ignore (them at school, then) the more you ignore it in other situations. The more calm I am here, the more calm I am anywhere.
Brian Crawford, junior at Pathways High School in Belleville
Q: What do you plan to do after graduation?
A: “When I go back to West, I really want to try and get a scholarship. Before that I had thought (of going into the) Army, but if you think about it and try, there’s more options than the Army.”
Q: What sports do you play?
A: “I would play football before anything, so if something negative (happens), I think first of football. If you play football, anything you do can get you suspended or kicked off the team.”
Q: What do you do after school?
A: Brian worked at the Old Spaghetti Factory in St. Louis for several months busing tables, but needed a job closer to home. “I didn’t like the mess you have to clean up, but that’s what I signed up for. I just want to stay occupied and have money.”
Q: What compelled you to write the poem, “I Am Somebody”?
A: “It was an assignment, when I first read that title it all came from my mind.”
About Brian Crawford:
- School: Pathways High School in Belleville
- Age: 16
- Favorite subject: Math. Brian likes figuring percent change and expects that to be a useful life skill.
- Least favorite subject: Science. “I used to be so good at science – but so much science is just too much.”
- Favorite professional team: Pittsburgh Steelers. “I’ve been a fan of Mike Wallace and Troy Polamalu.”
- Favorite food: Pizza, preferably Domino’s
- Favorite restaurant: Panda Express
- Family: Two brothers, five sisters. Lives with his mother, stepfather, younger brother and one older sister
Poem: “I am Somebody” by Brian Crawford
I am Somebody
I wonder if that matters
I hear you’re not this you’re not that
I see a difference in our pattern
I want a better future
I am Somebody
I pretend it’ll be okay
I feel deep down it’s really not
I touch my hands together and pray
I worry when it will all stop
I cry when a lost is reported
I am Somebody
I understand it’s hard to turn away
I say it’ll all be fine
I dream the worse instead of the best
I try to pretend I’m living a lie
I hope for a change in our lives
I am Somebody