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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.

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