Friday, March 4, 2011

School Days

Our writers challenge for the month of March was to write something about "school days." Here is what I shared:


"You have nice handwriting," the cashier says as I sign my name on a check.
"Why, thanks," is all I manage to reply, but part of me wants to tell her my story.

See, I'm the kind of person whose mind races so far ahead that my hand cannot keep up as I write. Typing at a computer is much faster, but we didn't really have computers in the classroom when I was first in school. The fifth grade homeroom had an early model computer, but it was all text-based - no windows, and students were rarely allowed to use it. All this is to say that our assignments had to be hand-written, and it was important that the words be legible.

I had always done very well in school, but I ran into a problem in fifth grade. My teacher could not read my writing when grading my assignments. Rather than give me a failing grade, he asked me to read the assignment to him. My handwriting was so poor that even I could not read it to him. My teacher - Mr. Harris - could have failed me for the assignment, but instead he took to helping me. I'll never forget what he said to me on that particular afternoon: "April, you have great potential, but you will never get anywhere if people cannot read your words."

His simple words and his care for my growth and development as a student led to handwriting classes after school. Every day, while the other kids were in detention, I re-learned how to write my letters. I had to practice writing slowly, deliberately, before I was able to write more quickly. Mr. Harris could have ignored my struggle with handwriting. He could have labeled me as a problem student or as someone with little promise in schooling, but he didn't. He took time with me and did what he could to prepare me for life. Mr. Harris didn't just teach me how to write clearly, he helped me to express myself. He didn't just help my hand catch up with my mind, he taught me to present my work to others in away that could have an impact on my world.