May 18, 2023 by HCDE Communications
Academic and Behavioral School East echoed with cheers and applause on Thursday as six students confidently strutted across the graduation stage. Among them, TeDarius Gamble, a determined 19-year-old, embodied the vibrant atmosphere that celebrated years of dedication and perseverance.
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Gamble began his journey at ABS East in the eighth grade when he was referred for behavior issues. The traditional school setting at Spring ISD emotionally overwhelmed him, which resulted in frustration and classroom disruptions.
“School was hard because I was always getting in fights and would get sent to the principal’s office,” said Gamble. “It was really frustrating, and I would become aggressive with people.”
After unsuccessful attempts to rehabilitate his behavior, school administrators referred Gamble to ABS East to provide him with specialized resources and an environment in which he could thrive.
At ABS East, Gamble gradually acquired essential behavior management techniques, which allowed him to navigate his emotions more effectively and collaborate with his peers.
Through his participation in the Boys Town Educational Model, a strategy that uses a token system to motivate, reward, and hold students accountable for positive behavior, Gamble became more engaged in campus activities and transformed into a reliable student respected by teachers and classmates.
“He’s always been involved around campus and eager to lend a hand, and when he received Merit Status, the highest tier in the Boys Town model, TeDarius was really happy,” said his homeroom teacher Sheridan Warren, Ed.D. “He was able to run errands for teachers, work with other students on campus and visit the elementary classrooms.”
Over the course of five years, the bonds forged with supportive educators and the school’s low student-to-teacher ratio have proven to be instrumental in Gamble’s behavioral progress.
Gamble attributes much of his transformation to the guidance of educational aides Thomas ‘Rev’ Wilson and Harrold Young, who served as positive male role models during moments of crisis. Their presence and calm demeanor helped Gamble find his center and reintegrate into the classroom.
“They have always been there for me, working to help manage my anger, frustrations, and self-esteem,” said Gamble. “They helped me understand that if I get along with my peers and find a coping mechanism, I can make it in life.”
Although Gamble has experienced setbacks in the past year, he has persevered and demonstrated a new skill: maturity.
“I’ve gotten into situations here, but I take a walk to calm down and try to remember the skills I’ve learned,” said Gamble. “I’m also learning to accept my consequences, so when I lose points in the Boys Town system, I don’t get upset.”
Early on at ABS East, Gamble was motivated to apply his newfound coping skills in the real world.
“It was rewarding for me to work with a student that wanted to be engaged and complete assignments,” said Warren. “I quickly noted TeDarius wanted to get things done. He was eager to graduate because he had plans for himself.”
In the ninth grade, Gamble secured employment with a local food truck, where he honed his work ethic, mastered customer service, and developed task management skills.
“He took a business class at ABS East and ran with the information,” said LaTisha Crawford, Gamble’s mother. “He was promoting the truck with business cards, giving out the location, and coming up with his own business plans. He’s ambitious, that’s for sure.”
Gamble’s confidence and leadership skills were evident in his collaboration with classmates while preparing for the school’s holiday program in 2021. Impressed by his ability to captivate an audience, ABS East administrators entrusted Gamble with the role of emcee during the event.
At his graduation ceremony this week, he once again commanded the stage. In his commencement speech, Gamble shared an account of his journey at ABS East and outlined his goals to make the best out of every situation.
For Gamble’s mother, his graduation is proof that every student can succeed in the right environment.
“This school has been a godsend for my child,” said Crawford. “He can become easily distracted, and this atmosphere and setting really worked for him. If he had been in a larger setting, I’m not sure we would have made it to graduation.”
In his next chapter, Gamble plans to become a diesel mechanic and will attend Job Corps, a free, federally funded residential education and career technical training program for at-risk young adults. The program teaches young people the academic and vocational skills needed to secure meaningful and lasting employment.
“TeDarius is very social and wants to explore the world, and I can see him being very successful outside of ABS East,” said Warren. “He just needs reinforcements to keep the skills he’s learned and enhance them in the real world.”
As Gamble’s time at ABS East comes to an end, his graduation serves as a testament to the power of dedicated teachers, mentorship, and a nurturing educational environment.
The following students also graduated from ABS East:
Adrianna Brooks, Spring Independent School District
Katie Freitag, Pearland Independent School District
Christian Frickey, Goose Creek Independent School District
Tyler Hart, Goose Creek Independent School District
Marcus Hickman, Galena Park Independent School District
To learn more about HCDE Schools, visit hcde-texas.org/special-schools.