For The Third Grade Teacher Who Believed In Me

For The Third Grade Teacher Who Believed In Me

Had it not been for her, I don't know for how long I would've been the silent, new kid.

I remember the first day of school, which for me was also the first day of third grade. It was a cold September day, or at least that's how I recall it as a newcomer to the United States. It was raining that day and I followed all the other kids inside the cafeteria as the school bell rang, announcing the beginning of the school day.

I sat on the long white benches with other kids who I was told would be in my class. But I didn't speak. I stared down at my hands, silently waiting to be ushered to my classroom. My first third-grade teacher was a teacher that was trained to handle ESL kids. But I realize now that she was the first person to push me to come out of my shell. She would take me to the library after school and she's the one who introduced me to my first "Harry Potter" book. She was the one who realized, after just a week of knowing me, that I didn't belong in an ESL class. I was already fluent in English, but it was my shy nature that made it so others would think that I could not communicate.

I recall the day she wrote a math problem on the board, a seemingly notorious algorithm to our little third-grade minds. I remember her asking if someone could come up and solve it. I looked around and no one did. One kid was busy sticking gum beneath a desk, a task which utterly disgusted me while another one was busy dealing cards from beneath the desk. But my teacher looked disappointed and I could not fathom why these kids would not pay attention to this sweet woman who was trying her best to teach them. I raised my hand, or so I thought I did. But it was a meek attempt. I didn't expect to be called upon or even noticed amongst the sea of students who could care less about algebra. But my teacher noticed me. She watched me as I precariously placed a chair next to the blackboard and picked up the white chalk. I heard snickers behind me. "Ohh the new kid's gonna mess up." But I paid no mind to them. I silently climbed up the chair- the math problem towered at least a foot above my head- and then proceeded to solve the equation. I silently walked back to my seat, paying them no mind.

My teacher and I would talk after class because I did not like to talk in front of the other kids. We would discuss books, the ones she'd read mostly because I was still reading that "Harry Potter" book, and home- my home. She'd ask me how Pakistan was. I remember crying then because no words could describe my home nor the love for my home. And I guess she must've understood the meaning of the unspoken words. I learned, later on, that she was an immigrant. She asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up and I was taken aback by that question. Aside from my parents, no one else cared about what I wanted to be. I told her that I wanted to be a doctor and she believed me- no questions asked.

But regardless, she made sure I was transferred to another teacher within the second week of school and made sure I was taken out of any extra ESL classes. She instead enrolled me in an art class after school. I would help students paint sets for our monthly school plays and it was there that I felt most at home. I had already left my home behind and it did seem a bit rushed that I was already changing the environment which I had spent 8 hours of my day in. But my teacher assured me that the new classroom would be a more productive environment for me.

My new third-grade teacher, however, was someone who never took me seriously. I didn't know how to estimate. I didn't know how to count money (the coins confused me). And I didn't know what odd and even numbers were. Even my spelling was wrong; back home the word color was spelled "colour" and gray was spelled "grey." I didn't know the 5 boroughs. But she didn't make an effort to teach me. Instead, she mocked me for reading "Harry Potter" which she claimed was "too advanced for me." I had already read the first two books and was on the third book in the series. I remember that day as well, when I went to my previous teacher with tears in my eyes, saying that I didn't want to come to school anymore. And she listened. She taught me all that I did not know and so much more. She helped me zoom pass something known as "reading levels" and within months I could read at the highest level.

All I'm trying to say is that my third-grade teacher is the one who pushed me to be the person I am today socially. Had it not been for her, I don't know for how long I would've been the silent, new kid. I still speak with my third-grade teacher. And we know each other well. Both of them I should add. Even the one who had no faith in me. I mentored and tutored her daughter when I was in the fifth grade. She's the teacher who told me "math is just not your subject." And now mathematics is one of the subjects I enjoy and tutor often. I was also elected School Treasurer for the Penny Harvest the following year. She told me, "you read very slowly- stick to smaller books." I can breeze through multiple books now in a single week. She told me, "your grammar and spelling are horrendous." And I did work on that too. I won the school-wide spelling bee two years later. She said, "you need to speak up." I was selected to help the principal with morning announcements.

I read this poem a few years ago by one of my favorite poets, Mary Oliver. It goes like this: "Someone I loved once gave me / a box full of darkness. / It took me years to understand / that this too, was a gift."

I have come to realize as an adult, that even those who put you down have a way of shaping you. Negative or positive, that's entirely your own decision. You can let those words put you down or take them as constructive criticism and build yourself up. Everything that you face, good or bad, has a way of impacting you. Trust me. I have defied all odds to exist.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay / Pexels

Popular Right Now

50 One-Liners College Girls Swap With Their Roomies As Much As They Swap Clothes

"What would I do without you guys???"

1. "Can I wear your shirt out tonight?"

2. "Does my hair look greasy?"

3. "We should probably clean tomorrow..."

4. "What should I caption this??"

5. "Is it bad if I text ____ first??"

6. "Should we order pizza?"

7. *Roommate tells an entire story* "Wait, what?"

8. "How is it already 3 AM?"

9. "I need a drink."

10. "McDonalds? McDonalds."


12. "Okay like, for real, I need to study."

13. "Why is there so much hair on our floor?"

14. "I think I'm broke."

15. "What do I respond to this?"

16. "Let's have a movie night."

17. "Why are we so weird?"

18. "Do you think people will notice if I wear this 2 days in a row?"

19. "That guy is so stupid."

20. "Do I look fat in this?"

21. "Can I borrow your phone charger?

22. "Wanna go to the lib tonight?"

23. "OK, we really need to go to the gym soon."

24. "I kinda want some taco bell."

25. "Let's go out tonight."

26. "I wonder what other people on this floor think of us."

27. "Let's go to the mall."

28. "Can I use your straightener?"

29. "I need coffee."

30. "I'm bored, come back to the room."

31. "Should we go home this weekend?"

32. "We should probably do laundry soon."

33. "Can you see through these pants?"

34. "Sometimes I feel like our room is a frat house..."

35. "Guys I swear I don't like him anymore."

36."Can I borrow a pencil?"

37. "I need to get my life together...."

38. "So who's buying the Uber tonight?"

39. "Let's walk to class together."

40. "Are we really pulling an all-nighter tonight?"

41. "Who's taking out the trash?"

42. "What happened last night?"

43. "Can you help me do my hair?"

44. "What should I wear tonight?"

45. "You're not allowed to talk to him tonight."

46. "OMG, my phone is at 1 percent."

47. "Should we skip class?"

48. "What should we be for Halloween?"

49. "I love our room."

50. "What would I do without you guys???"

Cover Image Credit: Hannah Gabaldon

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

The Glory Of Moving Far, Far Away

There is beauty in new beginnings.


In this day and age, people everywhere seem to have wanderlust. I like to say that July is when it is at its peak, especially for me. I am now adjusting to life in Coatesville, Pennsylvania with my family after moving from our previous home in Greensboro, North Carolina.

This is not my first time moving away, and it will certainly not be the last one either, but it still feels different to me. The main reason for that is because this is my last summer before I graduate from college.

It not only marks the end of my entire childhood, but it symbolizes the end of freedom. While I am still familiarizing myself with my new home, I want to take the time to write down how I feel right now.

Finding New Places

I am originally from Blacksburg, Virginia. I spent most of elementary school there, and I managed to stay for all four years of high-school as well.

So, it is safe to say that I know it pretty well. I loved living there, but I fell into this routine of frequency. I knew where I wanted to go out to eat and what movie theater I liked the most.

However, all of the places in Coatesville are new to me right now. Who knows what kind of memories I will have from all of the restaurants and stores here?

There is beauty in new beginnings, and I am already looking forward to stepping into a Wawa.

Happiness At Home

Fortunately, the moving process went very smoothly from the beginning for all of us. I kept the necessary belongings with me for the car ride and reunited with my other belongings quickly since the movers arrived the day after us.

One of my favorite things about coming to a new house is having a different room. I like sorting all of my stuff and thinking of crafty ways to arrange everything. The yellow walls actually closely resemble my dorm room which helps me think of ideas for the upcoming semester.

Plus, I have two side-by-side windows which give me a gorgeous view to our front yard. The first observation I made was all of the green surrounding us. The trees and grass just paint the entire neighborhood. It must be a sign for me to relax and enjoy the outdoors from time to time.

Make It Count Every Day

Like everything else in life, summer does not last forever. Even though it is not always easy to live in a new place, I am determined to make the most of it.

On one of our first nights at our new house, my sister chose the movie "Titanic" to watch that night. This is my most beloved movie and it made me feel more at home.

I cannot finish this section without giving credit to Jack Dawson. He once said, "I figure life is a gift and I do not intend on wasting it."

Since it has been almost a week since our journey here started, we have become accustomed to our family rituals including walking the dogs around the circle and watching the weekly showings of "America's Got Talent."

I am so glad that I have the chance to live in Pennsylvania and I am looking forward to the future. I am now more inspired to explore the area around me and learn more about myself.

Cover Image Credit:

Danielle Neron

Related Content

Facebook Comments