A teacher assigned to a Baton Rouge school was driven to the brink of quitting education by a student who regularly acted out.
Now, however, she’s the adoptive mom of the 14-year-old and his younger brother.
Halsey first met Jerome more than two years ago when she was assigned to a low-income school in Baton Rouge, La., through Teach for America.
At first she battled to get Jerome, then in the fourth grade, to pay attention, she told CNN, but finally got him to work with her.
“At certain points, his behavior got so bad,” teacher Chelsea Haley told CNN of her adoptive son, Jerome Robinson. “I thought, ‘I can’t do this anymore. I can’t be a teacher.’”
She discovered Jerome’s birth mother was struggling after the deaths of her husband and her daughter.
“It was really hard on her after she lost her husband,” Haley told CNN. “It was just a combination of tragedy coupled with the other social situations you face when you live in poverty.”
“They spent a lot of time living with their grandparents,” he said of Jerome and his younger brother, Jace, who was about a year and a half old at the time.
Haley’s principal asked her to stay on “for Jerome” after her two-year stint with Teach for America was up in 2015.
At the time, Jerome was 12 and his family had gotten to know the teacher.
Haley told CNN that God came to her in a dream one October night to say she was going to be Jerome’s mom.
She laughed it off at first.
But then he made a plea to her the next day after a test wrapped up.
“He just asked me if he could live with me,” Haley told CNN. “I told him I had been feeling the same thing.”
The teacher went to dinner with Jerome, his brother and her mom, she told the network.
She brought up returning to Georgia — at which point Jerome’s mom made a plea of her own.
“You can go back,” she told the teacher. “But I want you to take Jerome and Jace with you.”
Haley adopted Jerome in December 2015, according to CNN, and later got custody of Jace.
“I never thought I’d be a single mom at age 24, especially of two boys, one of which was my 12-year-old student,” she told CNN. “And the other one who was only a year-and-a-half.”
The three now live in suburban Atlanta, where Haley’s a teacher. Since leaving Louisiana, Jerome “has not gotten any suspensions or anything, which is a huge improvement” for the now 14-year-old boy, Haley told CNN.
“He used to fail all of his classes and just didn’t care,” she said. “Now he has made honor roll both quarters of his eighth-grade year so far.”
The middle school teacher also dipped into her retirement fund to secure a home for the three.
She also launched a GoFundMe with the goal of raising $50,000 to get Jace back into preschool this fall and start his college fund.