An educator recounts the inspiring story of a student who had the drive and determination to overcome one challenge after another.
Dufner (Vengeance Duty, 2009) tells the story of motivated student Gaby, a young girl he met when she was a student in his Weslaco, Texas, school district. The book begins with Gaby’s birth and childhood in the Mexican village of Ejido Buena Vista. Her mother, right before giving birth, “had a primal urge to move about that she could not deny, but still she did not wish to awaken her husband.” Gaby was a dedicated student, always coming in first in her class in the village school, but when her family immigrated to the United States, unofficial school district policy placed her in a lower grade and then kept her there for another year because she wasn’t fluent in English. Dufner makes no attempt to conceal his distaste for the practice: “That the policy was insulting and demeaning to recent immigrants was well understood by the man who made the rule, but he, and consequently the district, would not consider that his policy might be the cause of those students giving up on school.” After making rapid progress, Gaby decided to advance from sixth grade to ninth grade, where she belonged, by meeting the requirements for both seventh and eighth grade during the summer. Her teachers were reluctant to endorse her plan but impressed by her determination, so they introduced her to Dufner, a district administrator. Dufner, too, was surprised by Gaby’s willingness to work hard, but when she was severely injured in a car accident, he expected that she wouldn’t be able to finish the work. When Gaby announced that the partial paralysis wasn’t going to prevent her from starting high school in the fall, Dufner, amazed, provided the help this indefatigable youngster needed to achieve her goal. The sometimes unpolished prose does little to mute the impact of Gaby’s inspiring story, which is told with heartfelt sincerity that keeps the student, rather than the teacher, as its heart.
An uplifting story of perseverance and the immigrant experience.