ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Desheko Jones is a senior at St. Petersburg High School.
Or maybe he’s a junior. He’s really not sure.
Jones spends nine hours a week hooked up to a dialysis machine at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital.
His wait for a new kidney has robbed the 18-year-old of valuable school time.
As he prepares for the start of school on August 14, Jones is a little nervous whether he will graduate from high school this year.
That is where Annette Pagliaro comes in. She is one of six full-time teachers at the hospital whose main job is to get patients like Jones ready for school.
This is a very busy time of year for both of them. Pagliaro is not shy about helping him hit the books.
“We have a lot to do,” says Pagliaro. “We were busy all summer long. But these next two weeks are really busy. Because we’re setting them up for success.”
Her job is to teach and to keep Desheko on academic pace with kids his age.
“She’s a good teacher, but she’ll stay on you!” says Jones. “We work on everything, from math and science to language arts.”
Pagliaro is also trying to make sure Jones' already disrupted life doesn’t get more disrupted.
Most teachers and students have butterflies about a new school year, but the feeling is heightened for Desheko and Annette. This is crunch time.
They are both confident Jones is going to do well, especially in math.
“I don’t even need a calculator,” Jones smiles. “I’m already smart!”