A few years ago, teacher Chelsea Haley was so frustrated by a student that she considered quitting her job. In the end, Haley adopted the student and his baby brother to help give them a better life.
Soon after graduating from college in 2013, Haley joined Teach for America. She was assigned to a school in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. It was there she met Jerome Robinson, an elementary student with a propensity for acting out.
“At certain points, his behavior got so bad,” Haley recalls. “I thought, ‘I can’t do this anymore. I can’t be a teacher.'”
Jerome had lost both his father and sister. His mom had difficulty dealing with the tragedy on top of the challenges of living in poverty. Jerome and his baby brother, Jace, were forced to move around a lot, leading to Jerome acting out in school.
But over time, Haley was able to form a bond with Jerome. It got to the point where other teachers would have to send Jerome to her classroom, knowing she was the only one who could get him to do his work.
Her connection with Jerome made Haley stay at the school after her two-year commitment to Teach for America was over. The one night, she was overwhelmed with the feeling that she should be Jerome’s mother. The next day at school she learned that Jerome had the same thought.
“He just asked me if he could live with me,” Haley explains. “I told him I had been feeling the same thing.”
Haley met with Jerome’s mother, who agreed to let Jerome and Jace move with her to Georgia when her stint with Teach for America ended. Within a few months, Haley had adopted both boys.
Now 26 and working as a middle school teacher in Marietta, Georgia, Haley has given Jerome and Jace a better life. Instead of failing his classes and acting out, Jerome is now an 8th-grade honor roll student.
“I always knew I wanted to be a mom,” says Haley. “I wouldn’t trade this for anything.”