We tell small children that it is okay to make mistakes. We are told to forgive and forget. But our country doesn’t hold to these adages for those convicted of a crime. The revolving door of incarceration and juvenile justice has ensnared many of my students. It’s a hamster wheel that proves very hard to get off of. Poverty, crime, and violence are inextricably linked in the worlds of my students. In the county-wide consortium high school program where I currently teach, the students are all considered 100% at-risk in a multitude of categories – high-poverty, homeless, court-involved, frequently absent, working moms at 17, pregnant, expelled, etc. To address our students’ intense needs, our high school uses intentional strategies rooted in improving social-emotional learning to provide a better foundation for student success. We use trust, relationships, and character-building to provide stability and support for these students who have suffered trauma and often turn to crime to cope or survive.