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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Saving Xavier

Xavier Byrd, who likes to tinker with old machines and build contraptions, dreamed of being an aerospace engineer, writes Perry Stein in the Washington Post. But the 15-year-old sophomore at Washington D.C.'s Dunbar High had "spent his freshman year online, camera off, sleeping through most of his classes, failing to turn in most of his assignments." He'd forgotten his algebra.

Xavier talks with his robotics teacher, Anthony Allard. Photo: Maansi Srivastava/ Washington Post

With a half-million dollars in federal pandemic relief aid, Dunbar tried to reach students like Xavier, who normally don't get much attention, writes Stein. "He wasn’t failing, he wasn’t asking for help, and he didn’t have any outbursts in class." (His attendance rate of 70 percent apparently qualified as "average.")

Xavier stayed after school twice a week and came in on Saturday mornings to participate in the robotics club led by teacher Anthony Allard, who was finally being paid overtime for extra hours of work. The school paid for "an online tutoring program that would help him hone his writing skills for 45 minutes three times a week," she writes.

By mid-year, Xavier was in class nearly every day, preparing for a robotics competition. He'd built a close relationship with Allard. However, he was sleeping in engineering class, which had lost its teacher.

He finished the year with an A- average and 90+ percent attendance. While he'd started the year with below-average test scores, he finished "well above the average D.C. sophomore," writes Stein.

He got a summer internship with an engineering firm.

160 views3 comments


Sep 14, 2022

Those robotics clubs seem to do a lot more good than you would expect.

"However, he was sleeping in engineering class, which had lost its teacher." Well, with no teacher, you have to figure the class was a yawn; I don't blame him.


Sep 14, 2022

Went from missing 3 days of school every 2 weeks to about 1 day every 2 weeks. Why does this student not go to school?

With a lot of money and effort the school was able to help this student improve. His performance suggests he's academically capable. Now tell me what to do with those students who are so far behind and so unmotivated that they merely take up space in high school.

We have a serious problem in this country.



Sep 13, 2022

Nice to hear that some schools are now funded for both academic electives and extra-curriculars. The ROI is usually pretty good.

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