In 10th grade I was in Ms. Brown’s regular English class (all the teachers out there know what it means to have a ‘regular’ class). It was me and 28 other students who wanted to be anywhere other than analyzing classic works of literature. To say the class was rough and unmotivated would be an understatement, but Ms. Brown was resilient. She came in everyday with a new idea, a new way to try reach us, a new way to analyze The Great Gatsby so we might understand its significance to society. I remember sitting on those hard yellow seats becoming lost in Steinbeck’s of Mice and Men, and caught up in the drama of The Scarlet Letter.
You see, I’ve always had a love for stories, for getting lost in amazing worlds authors can create with their words. I would lock myself in my room for hours to transport myself into someone else’s life. Everything else, grades, chores, friends, etc, would go on the back burner. However, this love of reading was not something that translated into good grades.In fact, it was the opposite. I was a C student at best and never really gave much effort towards anything.
One day Ms. Brown asked me to stay after class.
“Why are you in this class?” She questioned
Completely confused, because what other class would I be in?
This is the one on my schedule. I mumbled, “I don’t know?”
She looked me straight in the eye and with determination said, “You’re better than this class. You’re smart. You’re capable. I see something in you. I’m signing you up for honors English since I know you can do it.”
I was dumbfounded and slightly uncomfortable. Ummm...didn’t she know I was a C student at best?!?
Throughout the next couple of days and weeks, I replayed her words over and over in my head, you’re smart. You’re capable. I see something in you. No one had ever told me this before. I mean, I think I was even tested for the special education program when I was in third grade.
Her simple, yet powerful words, though, became a constant loop that played inside of me. I held on to them, and made them my truth.
I didn’t just sign up for honors English. I signed up for ALL honors classes that next year, including physics (who cares I barely passed chemistry?!)
And guess what?! I rose to the expectation. I excelled my last two years of high school, was accepted into a small college, and even earned my master’s degree several years later.
All because one teacher told me who I was. Her simple words changed my life story.
And now, that is my passion and mission.
To shine a light on the hidden abilities and talents of my students.
To let them know they are more than they are allowing themselves to be.
To give them simple, yet powerful words they can carry through the years to help write their life story.