Tell us about a teacher who had a real impact on your life, either for the better or the worse. How is your life different today because of him or her?
For my 4th grade year my parents gave me the choice of: did I want to continue at my parochial school or go to the public school very close to our new house? My mom thought I would then be able to make more friends in my new neighborhood.
I chose the public school and wished I hadn’t. The kids were stuck-up because we lived in an affluent neighborhood. However, my family was cash-poor and I ended up wearing old clothes that were never in style. And, because I was chubby, the kids called me names all the time, and “dear” Miss Martin NEVER told them to stop.
But nobody was as bad as my teacher herself, Miss Martin.
I was in the top level reading group in my class but in the lowest one in math. I wasn’t dumb, but I just didn’t get long division on first try. Miss Martin in exasperation said to the whole class, “Debbie, you’re so dumb! Why can’t you get this?” Even I knew as a kid, a teacher should never say that to someone – much less, to an audience.
Congratulations Miss Martin, you had a perfect score for Bully of the Year.
My mother never knew about this occurrence, simply because I was so ashamed of myself – because I believed Miss Martin’s words. I figured she was older, she must know all the facts. So I never told anyone till years later.
Miss Martin impacted me in a negative way. For most of my life after that, then, I believed I was stupid. No one really took the time to tell me that I was bright and creative and funny – so I didn’t know.
The upside of this is I found out I do have a functioning brain – and my husband is willing to teach me algebra – if only I make the time.