The Assistant Principal Always Drove This Boy To School – And Helped Him Reach A Major Milestone

At first, assistant principal Kenneth Lanier thought Gabriel Miles was a class clown. But after talking to the student’s mom he realized that Miles needed help, and he vowed to be the one to give it to him. Then, after driving Miles to school every day, Lanier watched him do something the boy’s family have never witnessed before.

Teachers frequently choose their profession in order to help students reach their full potential. And yet that M.O. often starts and ends at the school grounds. However, when Lanier, the assistant principal of Northeast High School in Macon, Georgia, learned a student had problems, he made it his mission to help.

Lanier remembered his first encounter with Miles. As he recalled in a blog on Love What Matters, “It was my first day as assistant principal… A young man approached me and saluted. He asked me, ‘Sir, were you ever in the military?’ I responded, ‘No’ and continued to move around the cafeteria, monitoring other students.”

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As the assistant principal finished his circuit of the cafeteria, he returned to where Miles was seated. When the student asked Lanier again if he had ever been in the military, another teacher intervened, suggesting Miles leave the man alone. Lanier, however, believed the student was messing around and would soon be visiting his office.

At the start of the academic year, Lanier would often observe Miles dashing from class to class as if desperate not to be late. But as fall and winter rolled around, no longer did he spot the young man in the cafeteria. He began to wonder where this endearing student offering regular salutes had gone.

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But then as summer approached, Lanier was offered administration duties on Northeast High’s Summer Opportunity School. The assistant principal was perhaps a little surprised when he learned that Miles had enrolled in the program. He realized then that he couldn’t get away from the quirky student’s attention.

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But Miles didn’t show up to summer classes. However, it wasn’t long before Lanier learned why. The young boy’s mom called the assistant principal to explain her son’s absence. The family had moved to a new house, meaning the school was no longer in walking distance for her son. And to add to the student’s problems, they were no longer on the school bus route.

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With transit proving difficult, Miles had to rely on the help of his family. It was a situation that took away any motivation the student had of getting to school. Lanier knew that Miles had to attend Summer Opportunity School the next day. And so, the educator came up with a solution.

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Having observed Miles around school, Lanier recognized that he had the application to do well academically. It was simply a seemingly impossible situation that was dragging the student down. As the assistant principal told Georgia’s WMAZ News in May 2018, “He had the drive. He just had an obstacle in his way [and that was] transportation.”

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“As educators, we oftentimes say we really want to help children,” Lanier explained in the Love What Matters blog. “But many times, that stops at the school doors. However, in this moment, I felt it to be my calling to help Gabriel.” The assistant principal would be there the next morning to drive Miles to school himself.

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During their carpools to and from school each day, Lanier learned a lot about the talkative student. Miles would describe in great detail everything that he had gone through in life. His family appeared to move around a lot and had lived in a hotel in the past. The troubled young man also once served time in a detention center.

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The more the educator learned about young Miles, however, the more he realized they had absolutely nothing in common. Nevertheless, the assistant principal felt drawn to the young man. Could it simply be that with a mother who couldn’t drive and a father busy at work, like Miles, the Lanier often lacked a reliable ride in his youth?

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But there was one thing that was patently clear. Miles was determined to graduate. In fact, he would be the first person in his family to do so. And Lanier had grown so fond of his student thanks to their car rides that he made a decision. The assistant principal was going to do all he could to help the young man reach his goal.

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As Lanier described, “It was clear to me that helping Miles meant more than encouragement and/or discipline when needed. It meant I had to extend myself further than anticipated, but I made a commitment to him. If he did all he could, then I would do all I could to help him.”

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Not only did Lanier commit to driving Miles to school and home again every day, his help extended further. Understanding the student had difficulties at home, he offered a little financial help when needed. And when he was away for training for a few days, the assistant principal made arrangements so Miles could still get to school.

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While Lanier was away, he had a revelation. When asked to select an inspirational quote, he chose Nelson Mandela’s “Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.” And when asked to name a student who inspired him, without hesitation, he chose Miles.

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As Lanier recalled, “After returning from the trip, I shared with Miles what I had committed to. His response to me was, ‘You really want me to graduate?’ I responded with, ‘You are going to graduate. I will pick you up at 6:15 a.m. every morning and be on time. You are going to school if I have to come in the house and drag you out!’”

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Although Miles thought the situation was funny, he knew the assistant principal was serious. And it was through Lanier’s confidence in him that the student found the determination to break the cycle. A year after the teacher’s commitment, their car ride was headed to a graduation ceremony.

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“Miles [was] excited about graduation,” Lanier described on Love What Matters. “But he’s especially excited about being the first person in his family to graduate from high school.” Indeed, the assistant principal wasn’t the only person inspired by the young man’s achievements despite his difficulties.

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“I’m excited about how Miles has overcome adversities, and worked extremely hard, even on Saturdays, to reach this milestone in his life,” Lanier explained. “To top it off, I received a call from the Executive Director for Student Affairs of the local technical college inviting Miles, his parents and I for a visit. I am extremely proud of him.”

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