Instead of putting the most troublesome student in the class in detention, 26-year-old teacher Chelsea Haley adopted him and his brother. Now Jerome and Jace are changing Chelsea’s life like she once changed theirs.
In 2015, Chelsea was working in Baton Rouge on a commitment to Teach for America, an organization that supports low-income schools.
She had one particular student in the class, Jerome Robinson, who always caused troubles. He was driving the young teacher nuts, and Haley was on the verge of quitting her job.
When I think about my money, my time, my energy, all of it is really on the boys and what’s best for them
Chelsea had exhausted every academic recourse she had, and decided to try a different approach before giving up.
“I realized the only way to reach Jerome was to get to know him and just build a relationship,” she told ABC News.
The boy and Chelsea started spending time together outside of school, going to Jerome’s football and basketball games. Sometimes they just hanged out, buying school supplies and groceries.
As Chelsea had expected, the 4th grader, who came from a dysfunctional family, needed only someone’s attention.
The teacher soon saw true Jerome and liked him very much. She realized that this kid had a good sense of humor and was kind to everyone around him.
“There were still days in the classroom when he made me wanna pull my hair out,” Chelsea laughs. “I knew that below that tough boy exterior was just a little boy begging to be loved.”
In mere weeks, the young teacher and the student found a strong bond, and in October 2015, Jerome asked Chelsea if he and his little brother Jace could live with her.
Coincidentally, Haley had a dream the same month that she is destined to be Jerome’s mother. The main thing, however, was that Chelsea did not want to live only for herself anymore.
Within two months, the teacher acquired full custody of both Jerome and his little brother, who is now three. Their biological mother gave her blessing, and boys were formally adopted.
I realized the only way to reach Jerome was to get to know him and just build a relationship
Over the last two years, Chelsea’s focus switched from herself to boys. Haley even took two part-time jobs on top of her full-time job to make ends meet. The teacher says she is grateful for this newfound meaning in her life:
“When I think about my money, my time, my energy, all of it is really on the boys and what’s best for them.”
Chelsea’s family now lives in Marietta, Georgia, where 12-year-old Jerome is an honor-roll student. Haley says it is hard to describe how proud she is for his achievements:
“I think it just goes to show that he’s always had the potential, all he needed was the support and the self-confidence to be successful.”
Featured image: Chelsea Haley/Facebook