From the Beginning to Now: My Story | Teen Ink

From the Beginning to Now: My Story

November 14, 2016
By Elizabeth12, Manassas, Virginia
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Elizabeth12, Manassas, Virginia
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Author's note:

I hope that people will be able to see that everyone has their own path of education and I just want to share mine. 

To win in education, in my eyes, is to make sure that every student is able to achieve their own personal goals. Our school systems these days are so focussed on standardized testing and scores, that we are not able to be creative and interact with our learning. In all of the articles that we have read about education, the authors have shown us how they have succeeded in education without the standard ways that we are used to. For my story, I have chosen to do a series of events from all my years in schooling so far, as Sherman Alexie did in “Indian Education”. My experience growing up was and still is a lot different from his however it has gotten me to where I am today. In order to to tell my story I need to start from the beginning.

I was an innocent little girl with a very unfortunate blonde bob thrown into this huge place with big 5th graders who i was convinced could eat me. Speaking of 5th graders, both of my older brothers were in the same school as me so at least I knew someone, assuming that they actually acknowledged me, which most of the time they did not.
I got on the bus to go home from my first day of school and my brothers were sitting together so I couldn’t sit with them so i sat down next to this brunette who i had seen in the class next to mine. I asked if I could sit down and she said yes so of course it was fate, and we vowed to be best friends forever.

I was on top of the world by now because I wasn’t the youngest anymore so that obviously means that I am the coolest kid in school. Those kindergarteners were so lame. My teacher was so nice, she always has a piece of candy on our desks every friday when we got to school. We did lot’s of things in class like craft projects and coloring which made school really fun. I also won the leprechaun trap competition that year which I worked really hard on. My mom was the leader of the chess club so I did that every morning for an hour before school. I was sure I would become the world’s greatest chess player one day.

My teacher wasn’t very enthusiastic but she had a jar of blue jolly ranchers on her desk so that makes her ok. We started learning about the Mayans and Incans that year along with phonics, which I was very excited about because the workbook had a dalmatian on the front.
One day we got put under a tornado drill, which is what we thought is was, until of course we found out it was real. I remember my teacher’s husband called her because he was a fireman and told her that it was coming. I was terrified. I still slept with my parents when it was raining at night and now I was there without anyone, in a tornado. I thought I was going to die. We ended up surviving believe it or not but I swore to never again wear the shirt that I wore that day, and to this day I have not broken that promise.

This was by far my favorite teacher of all. My brother had her before me as a teacher and had told me how much he loved her so I was very excited when I heard that I had her too. She just has such an energy that she brought to the classroom that just made us want to do multiplication and division which was not a normal hobby of mine. We earned pennies for things that we did in class and at the end of every month we  have an auction. That was such a great way for us to get motivated to learn and do well. I still have those redskins earrings that I won.

This year was supposed to be my year. I was so excited to finally be able to be a “big buddy” like I had when I was in kindergarten. I had been awaiting this my whole elementary school career. Unfortunately, my teacher was the only one who did not get to do that. I was devastated. What’s the point of going through elementary school if you can’t be a “big buddy?”
We started learning long division that year and we learned a hand game for our times tables that was really helpful and in fact, I still remember it today. This is the first year that I really remember taking the SOL even though we took it in third grade. I remember our teacher gave us a bag of candy and each SOL test that we passed, we got a piece of candy. I of course got all of my pieces of candy.

These were some pretty tough years for me. Fifth grade was the first year that I was put into GT classes and i remember feeling so out of place. All of the kids in these classes were so concerned with getting 100% all the time or else they thought the world would end. I was perfectly happy with my B average thank you very much. I remember one time we had taken a test in science and I had gotten a B on it which I was really happy with because I thought I did a lot worse. One kid in my class came up to me and told me that he hopes my mom doesn’t get mad at me. My mom has always said “just try your best, that’s all that matters”, so she was fine with that grade. But that kid made me so insecure about my grades and how smart I was.  I had to learn that i didn’t have to be the same as everyone else.

Seventh grade was a pretty easy, uneventful year school wise. The only thing that really sticks out at me about that year was that I made the varsity volleyball team which I was really excited about. I had been playing with the boys and girls club before that so I kind of knew what I was doing.
Eighth grade was not a fun year. My friend group had so much drama, it seemed like everyday someone was mad at someone else. It was just the usual eighth grade drama: boys, clothes, or social media. At the end of the year, this may sound dumb, but my guinea pig died the day of my algebra SOL. My guinea pig needed surgery the day before and had to go under anesthesia and never woke up. I know, it’s a guinea pig, but it was sad. Anyways, in the testing room my friends were asking me how his surgery went and i hadn’t told them he died, so i just started bursting out crying. I couldn’t focus the whole time and ended up failing my test. I retook it and passed it but that was my first time failing a SOL and it did not feel good.

I loved my freshman year. For starters, I made the varsity volleyball team which was a huge ego booster for me and it also allowed me to meet a lot of new people before the year even started because practices started in the summer. My brother was also a senior that year so I had him there, and I have to say he did a better job at acknowledging me then in first grade. I was so excited for my freshman homecoming and spirit week and it was all so much fun.
For classes I took all honors classes which I did decently in, a had a B average throughout the year. The amount of studying and homework that was involved was completely different from what I was used to in middle school and I realized that I would actually have to start trying a little harder in school.

I had convinced myself that I was going to get straight A’s and take all honors classes including the dreaded honors algebra II which everyone had said was crazy hard. I stayed in it for a couple of weeks until it came time for the first test. I studied for that test a week before we took it and every night up until the test. On the night before i stayed up until about three in the morning studying and I thought I would ace this test. I had been working with a tutor who also said that he thought I was ready for it. I took the test and got a whopping 43%. Don’t get me wrong, I loved this teacher. She was so nice and was willing to help me with whatever I was struggling with at any time. However, the moment I saw my grade, I immediately switched out. I couldn’t deal with the fact that I had worked that hard and still gotten that grade. I was moved into the regular class which ended up being the wrong decision. My new teacher didn’t seem to be as willing as the last one to help me when I needed it. She kind of just expected me to do it on my own. That really taught me to follow through with things even when they get tough because I would’ve rather gotten a C in the honors class than a B in the regular class.

I’m still working on this one so I can share what i’ve been through so far. This year has been way more stressful than any other year. Everyone has always said that your junior year is the hardest and that you will have no free time. I’m beginning to believe that.  I am taking all honors classes and two AP classes, which is what I chose to do and I am glad that I did, but it is a lot of work. Instead of having maybe a half an hour of homework a night, which is what I was used to, I have 3-4 hours per night. I am also starting to think more about college and thinking about what i should have done differently in the previous years, or what I want to achieve before i graduate.

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