When I was a junior in high school, my mom ran into the mother of my childhood best friend, Chris Warner, at the super market. Chris and I had been inseparable, from riding my big wheel trike into the tree at the bottom of the driveway and losing a few teeth as a result, to chasing each other on the school playground, we discovered the world together as little ones do. He and I had quite the romance, though I don't recall a kiss. Our parents certainly thought it was adorable and harbored hopes that we would rekindle a flame in adolescence. So soon, the super market encounter prompted a reunion. Chris arrived with a photocopy of our kindergarten class picture. This image is an excerpt from it.
I have extremely fond memories of kindergarten. I was a tom boy running around in one of the three mini skirts in rotation with grass stained knees, scrapes, and bruises. I swung wildly across the monkey bars two at a time and tried to reach the tallest tree limbs with my feet as I pumped and pumped on the swing set belting out Whitney Houston's Greatest Love of All. Though I don't remember this class picture being taken, nor do I remember being cheeky enough to pose like this, I love this glimpse into who I was in kindergarten.
In first grade, after school I began being taken to dark offices, where my hearing was tested, I was given puzzles to complete, and pictures to analyze. By the end of the year, I was reluctantly pulled from my beloved school and friends, to be enrolled in a school that specialized in reading. For three summers and two school years, I took a series of buses for an hour to that school with dread. I turned inward, quiet, introspective, and self-conscious. Finally, though extremely discouraged because my reading level was not at "grade level" and the school had data points to uphold, my parents transferred me to a small all-girls catholic school.
There, under the nurturing care of Miss Porter, I repeated third grade. Within no time, I was reading fluently and excelling in all my subjects. I remained in that school and thrived from third to twelfth grade. I went onto a good college, where I did well, and I have succeeded professionally.
Not until recently have I shed the stigma of going to such a school and as a result regained my inhibition.
And just like everyone else, my childhood and educational experiences, has shaped my self-image, identity, and perspective on education. I began teaching with the sole intention to make each student feel complete and special in their unique aptitudes and learning methods. Our society's values and school system has a long way to go so that no student feels marginalized, however there are thousands of teachers at work in and out of the classroom everyday that inspire inhibition. For them, I am grateful.