Sarah Jane Brian 2016-02-11 22:52:02
VOCABULARY incarcerated: held in a prison or jail excelled: did very well at something mentor: someone who acts as a role model for others consequences: things that happen as a result of an action vowed: promised Staying hopeful isn’t easy when a parent is in jail. But this teen and his family work hard to keep their bonds strong. Isiah Branch-El doesn’t remember the day his father was arrested. Isiah was only 2 years old at the time. His dad has been in prison ever since. “It’s been hard on me,” says Isiah, now 15. Growing up, he felt ashamed and angry. Isiah didn’t know any other kids who had a parent in prison. He kept his father’s situation a secret at school. Even his teachers didn’t know. Isiah saw his friends with their dads. “I would really be sad,” he says. “I felt like I’m not normal. I don’t have a father at home. It hurts.” Because of his sadness and anger, Isiah acted out at school. He got into fights. “I felt all these negative emotions,” he says. “The hardest thing was waking up every morning and realizing I don’t have my father to hug.” Finding Help Isiah’s mom knew that Isiah needed help to deal with his feelings. When he was 8, she learned about Children of Promise, NYC (CPNYC). This organization is located near Isiah’s home in Brooklyn, New York. It helps children with incarcerated parents. Soon, Isiah and his little sister, Ayana, started going to CPNYC every day after school. They played sports and got homework help. They also got to meet other children who had parents in prison. Suddenly, Isiah felt, “I’m not alone in the world. Other kids have gone through the same struggle and sometimes even a greater struggle.” At CPNYC, Isiah often talked with his counselor, Anna Morgan-Mullane. She helped him understand his feelings. He practiced breathing exercises to calm down. He learned how to walk away, talk to a teacher, and avoid a fight. Staying Close Even from prison, Isiah’s dad did everything he could to be there for his son. He gave Isiah advice over the phone, and he often wrote long letters and cards. Isiah visited his dad as often as he could. With support from his family and CPNYC, Isiah’s behavior improved. He excelled in middle school and discovered that he loved art. He became a mentor for younger kids at CPNYC. Bullied and Arrested Isiah no longer hid the fact that his dad was in prison. In eighth grade, kids from another school found out. They began bullying Isiah. They called him names and hit him. Isiah told teachers about the bullying, but nothing was done. One day, Isiah snapped when six boys attacked him. He fought back—and got arrested. Isiah was handcuffed, put in a police car, and taken to a jail cell. “I was freaking out,” says Isiah. “I realized I could have taken so many paths, but I chose to fight back. I had to face the consequences.” CPNYC helped Isiah find a lawyer. He was cleared of the charges and vowed never to make a mistake like that again. Last year, Isiah was put to the test. Another kid wanted to fight. Isiah stayed calm and walked away. The kid punched him in the back of the head. Isiah was sent to the hospital with bleeding in his brain. It was scary. Still, Isiah knows he did the right thing by walking away. The other kid was expelled from school. But Isiah is doing well in school, and his future looks bright. “My Best Supporter” These days, Isiah talks with his father often. “Even when I mess up, he encourages me to do better,” says Isiah. “He’s my best supporter.” His dad may be released when Isiah is 22. For now, Isiah visits him in prison every month. “I have strength in my heart,” says Isiah, “knowing that my dad’s still here. I’m going to see him soon.” Action Activity You’ve just readthe article “Isiah’s Dad Is in Prison.” Now it’s time to take our quiz. Good luck! WHAT TO DO: Fill in the bubble next to the best answer for questions 1 to 5. Write your answer for question 6 on the lines below. 1. What is the central idea of this article? A Isiah Branch-El sees a counselor to help him deal with having a dad in prison. B CPNYC is located in Brooklyn, New York. C Kids who have incarcerated parents are often bullied. D Having his dad in prison has been hard on Isiah, but he finds ways to stay strong. 2. In the section “Bullied and Arrested,” why do you think the author included the quote “I was freaking out”? A to show how Isiah felt about getting arrested B to show that Isiah is afraid of police cars C to show how CPNYC helped Isiah D to show why Isiah fought back against his bullies 3. In the first section of the article, what does the word negative mean? A bad, not hopeful C satisfying B silly, not serious D thoughtful 4. Which phrase from the text helps you understand the meaning of negative? A “waking up every morning” B “Because of his sadness and anger” C “Isiah saw his friends” D “Even his teachers didn’t know” 5. You can infer, or tell from clues in the text, that __. A basketball is Isiah’s favorite sport B Isiah’s dad writes to him every day C meeting other kids with incarcerated parents helped Isiah feel better D Isiah plans to be a counselor someday 6. Even though Isiah’s dad has been in prison for years, he has stayed involved in Isiah’s life. Write down two examples from the article that show how Isiah’s dad has kept a strong bond between them. (Hint: Look in the sections “Staying Close” and “‘My Best Supporter.’ ”)
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