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 â€” is he or is he not going to send me child support? â€” 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.