I am forever indebted to my third grade teacher, Mrs. Adams, and principal, Dr. Woodward at Spring Creek Elementary School in Richardson, Texas. The compassion and empathy these women exhibited changed the course of my life.
My family moved to the United States when I was eight years old. Though I spoke English, it felt like a different language than “American” (and particular “Texan”). I had an accent which my new classmates had difficulty understanding. I used different words to describe things which my classmates ridiculed. And, I spelled words differently which lead me repeatedly to fail spelling tests. [Read more…]
No student wants to be “different.” I was different. No student wants to fail; I was failing. I hated school … so much so that I refused to attend. One day, my mother met with Mrs. Adams and asked her to consider checking my spelling test using an Oxford Dictionary. Fortunately, Mrs. Adams agreed. Instead of giving me a big red “X,” she wrote how I needed to adjust my spelling to get the answer correct in America. I slowly grasped the nuanced changes that I needed to make and began getting good grades again. That simple act of kindness restored my confidence.
Dr. Woodward helped me feel accepted and valued. She was the most approachable principal I had ever met. She smiled a lot. She asked me how things were going when she saw me in the hall. The interest she showed made me feel that she was happy to see me and cared whether I was at school. Her simple acts of kindness transformed my attitude towards school.
My third grade teacher and my elementary principal truly changed my life. In third grade, I was a shy little girl who did everything in her power not to attend school because I felt so different and unwelcome. In fourth grade I was making good grades again; I had friends, in fact, I was elected to the student council; I loved school again.
Who would I be today if Mrs. Adams had not been willing to adapt her instructional strategy to help me learn to spell the American way? Her patience and willingness to work with me transformed me from a child who felt dumb and a failure to a young girl with confidence in her ability to succeed. Where would I be if Dr. Woodward hadn’t made me feel that my presence at school mattered?
Few of us have the power to impact peoples’ lives as profoundly as teachers do. Thank you Dr. Woodward and Mrs. Adams and all the teachers who impacted my life indelibly! I am forever indebted to each of you. Without your teaching, guidance and caring, I would not have had the knowledge or confidence to start Learning List. I hope that Learning List pays the gifts you gave me forward by making it a bit easier for teachers to use their materials to teach, reteach, and differentiate instruction most effectively to help all of their students reach their potential.