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New School Gets Credit For Problem Child's Transformation

Family avoids drastic measures by getting serious at school

By Adam Kuperstein
|  Tuesday, Sep 14, 2010  |  Updated 3:03 PM EDT
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Troubled Student's Turnaround

NBCMiami.com

Devhon Hankerson

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Troubled Student's Turnaround

Devhon Hankerson was heading down a bad path at school, until he turned things around.
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You wouldn't know it from his infectious smile, but Devhon Hankerson was a problem child.

"He was frequently thrown out of class," said Principal Francis Young at Richard Allen Leadership Academy in Miami Gardens.

Hankerson began attending the all-boys charter school as a 4th grader, when it first opened two years ago. Devhon's grandmother hoped the Leadership Academy would set him straight.

"He wouldn't sit down, we couldn't get him to do his work," she said.

In the beginning of 4th grade, Hankerson spent most of the time in the Principal's office.

"It had gotten to the point," his grandmother, Sandra Rutledge said, " We didn't know what to do with him."

They considered boarding school, boot-camp, medication. But after a few months at his new school, it turned out the answer was right there. Devhon needed more structure, more discipline and teachers who cared.

"When children know you really care for them, they will perform for you," Principal Young said.

"From now on," Devhon wrote in a letter to parents, students and teachers, "You won't see me in the office anymore for doing something wrong.

"Guys, lying won't get you anywhere. It will just take you to the jail-house," the letter continued. "Do you want to be people on the street or men who own businesses and have a family?"

Hankerson's words urge other students to choose the right path. A path that in 5th grade landed him in the National Honor Society.

"We knew that there had been a turnaround, but to that extent?" said Principal Young. "To improve to the point he got a 3.5 GPA, that's really phenomenal."

Devhon is a 6th grader now. And that same kid who used to live in the Principal's office, wants to be a lawyer.

"I love that," says grandma. "I love it!"

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