GREENSBORO, NC – Two years ago, it was D’s, F’s and a lot of sleeping in class for Nathaniel Pendleton.
“I just didn’t feel like doing anything. I wasn’t interested in the work,” Nathaniel explained. “I thought I would just fake it until I make it and just ease on by. I was never the kind of kid that was noticed.”
“The first week I met Nathaniel, I spent most of the time telling him to wake up, we’re not sleeping,” said Linda Browning, Nathaniel’s case manager and Special Education Teacher. “He was very disengaged at his home high school. It was a large high school, probably with 30-35 kids in each classroom and for Nathaniel, he handled it by sleeping through most of his classes."
A self-proclaimed introvert, Nathaniel had no interest in good grades when first attending classes at Greensboro College Middle College. Now, he’s making A’s and B’s and will graduate from high school on May 25th.
“He’s become a true leader,” said Browning.
Greensboro College Middle College is set in a small school environment located on a college classroom. The same high school curriculum is taught on a college campus to provide encouragement to students to further their education. Classes sizes are typically 10 to 15 students and only juniors and seniors may attend.
Browning helped present the class material to Nathaniel in a way that helped keep him engaged. At first, they would focus for lengthy periods of time on material, especially math.
But soon, Browning explained, “It got the point where he could do it faster than I could and better. He really just needed someone to say, you’re really going to do this.”
“It was kind of boring until Mrs. Browning showed me different ways to look at it besides just work. Made it more exciting and made me more interested in doing the work,” said Nathaniel.
The 17-year-old has dealt with a host of issues from medical to personal. Nathaniel has diabetes, hypertension and ADHD. And in August of 2016, the senior and his family were evicted from their home.
He, his mom and siblings spent their time since then in a small motel room.
“I didn’t have any space to myself. It was just nasty.”
Nathaniel, a bit hesitant to talk about his personal living situation, added his situation has “improved” slightly.
As for his schoolwork, Nathaniel enjoys English and Browning called him infectious with a joyous personality and quick wit.
“Nathaniel is just a true testament of taking risk and how it pays off for the teachers and the students,” said Browning.
Graduation day is approaching and Nathaniel said he is very excited.
“I felt like I’ve gotten somewhere from where I came from,” he said before adding, “Find whatever motivates you.”
What motivates him? The chance to make his family proud of him.
Nathaniel isn’t 100 percent sure of what he wants to do after graduation, but he does know he wants a solid plan in place, so he doesn’t have to go to college for longer than necessary.