Middle-school moms

Milwaukee has an alternative middle school that specializes in creating a “family” for pregnant girls and new mothers in sixth through ninth grade. The featured middle-school mother has spent years in foster care.

In a Houston Chronicle story, the valedictorian of an alternative school became a mother as a 15-year-old eighth grader. Myrtle Nickerson’s mother is a drug user and drinker. Her father was known as “Dog.” She doesn’t know his real name and didn’t know he’d died till she tried to find him to show him baby photos.

She credits her academic success to an elementary teacher, “the meanest teacher ever,” who believed she could succeed.

“Ms. Smith let ’em know like it is: ‘This is who you are, but this is who you can become.’ That’s what she always used to tell me,” Nickerson says.

She made the honor roll in sixth and seventh grade. Then, she got pregnant.

“I thought that was just the end. All the women in my family, they usually have children around the ages 13, 14, 15.

“No disrespect, but I don’t want to depend on the welfare system. I don’t want to depend on baby daddy — is he or is he not going to send me child support? — I don’t want to live in the projects, thinking it’s all good. This is not what I want.”

She showed up every day in high school, did the work and graduated in three years with a 3.6 average. She’ll go on to Texas Southern, where she hopes to study pharmacy.

About Joanne


  1. Deirdre Mundy says:

    My question is, why is the no-fluff (9 week semesters…) option available only to teens in trouble?

    Wouldn’t other students also benefit from less fluff, more substance? When I think of all the time my high school history classes wasted on movies, word finds and coloring exercises, I cringe. I would gladly have cut the fluff done the work in half the time….

    (I went to a college on the quarter system…. It was MUCH easier to do well when there was a constant push as opposed to long, busy-work filled lags….)

    Also, if the school system is admitting that about 1/2 of every course is fluff, what are they doing about it? Could this be why today’s seniors often know less than the 8th graders of 100 years ago?

  2. No baby daddy and doggie daddy dead? Where Augie Doggie?