Howard Kitchen was 4 years old child when Laney Rogers met him.
At first glance, the boy was enchanting. Soon, it was realized that he had complex issues, such as temper outbursts and destructive behavior. However, the Union City Schools in Tennessee chose never to give up on him.
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Laney Rogers was Howard’s special education teacher at the time. She used to be a student of behavioral management and tried to turn things around for Howard, but nothing worked.
“Everyone took a rotating turn in that elementary school with Howard. We would tap in and out of the war zone,” Laney Rogers wrote in her Facebook post.
What fixed him?
Nothing from the studies could help Howard fix his issues, but what cured, or at least appeared to cure, him was “love and care.”
“I always try to put myself in the mother’s [student’s] shoes,” Laney said. According to her, this approach helped cure Howard and other similar students. “Keep showing up is the most significant part.”
“We just kept showing up to love him,” Laney Rogers added. “Eventually, it just fixed itself.”
Now, Howard has become a teenager (17 years old). He appreciates the love and support from his parents and school, and he knows everyone wants the best for him.
“I feel so glad to have a person who loves me and supports me,” he said to TODAY Parents.
The love and care changed him for good and made him a different man. In recent months, Howard started mentoring “little Howards” from the same elementary school he attended. His boundless efforts have appeared to succeed.
“Howard is my best best best best friend,” Christian Scates (a 5-year-old) said to TODAY. “When I get mad, he teaches me how to get calm. I count to 10,” she adds.
The influence of social media
After several years, Laney Rogers found Howard in the spot she used to be, mentoring children at the elementary school. Undeniably, this was a touching moment for her and thus influenced her to capture a photo with him.
It was a nostalgic moment for her to know that many children see him as their role model.
Later, having Howard’s permission, she posted the picture along with her story.
It wasn’t too long after being online that the post became viral and reached over 25,000 shares, and Howard never fails to keep track of it.
The positive comments were remarkable. Laney Rogers told TODAY: “I’m so excited; I was just crying.” He hopes to help needy children in his care, and this incident has motivated him to attend a post-secondary school next year and he expects to be a churchman.
Laney Rogers has become the director of the Union City school district. But, in her words, her experience with Howard also significantly changed her. Her teaching and mentoring methods have now reached a high level, and she’ll do the same for other kids in the future.
Laney Roger’s message
Laney Rogers closed her statement by advising adults to shift their attitude to “difficult” children and never give up on them. In her view, it’s a matter of effort and wishes to help them, which can significantly change their lives and ours.
“I now know what’s possible,” she said. “It’s not about trying to fix a problem but putting the right people in the right place. …
“Don’t give up on the Howards in the world — they make you better people,” she said.
Hopefully, her message will be conveyed equitably, and other Howards will get the same treatment they deserve.