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.
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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

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To The Girl Who Had A Plan

A letter to the girl whose life is not going according to her plan.
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“I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.” - William Ernest Henley

Since we were little girls we have been asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” We responded with astronauts, teachers, presidents, nurses, etc. Then we start growing up, and our plans change.

In middle school, our plans were molded based on our friends and whatever was cool at the time. Eventually, we went to high school and this question became serious, along with some others: “What are your plans for college?” “What are you going to major in?” “When do you think you’ll get married?” “Are you going to stay friends with your friends?” We are bombarded with these questions we are supposed to have answers to, so we start making plans.

Plans, like going to college with our best friends and getting a degree we’ve been dreaming about. Plans, to get married as soon as we can. We make plans for how to lose weight and get healthy. We make plans for our weddings and children.

SEE ALSO: 19 Pieces Of Advice From A Soon-To-Be 20-Year-Old

We fill our Pinterest boards with these dreams and hopes that we have, which are really great things to do, but what happens when you don’t get into that college? What happens when your best friend chooses to go somewhere else? Or, what if you don’t get the scholarship you need or the awards you thought you deserved. Maybe, the guy you thought you would marry breaks your heart. You might gain a few pounds instead of losing them. Your parents get divorced. Someone you love gets cancer. You don’t get the grades you need. You don’t make that collegiate sports team. The sorority you’re a legacy to, drops you. You didn’t get the job or internship you applied for. What happens to you when this plan doesn’t go your way?

I’ve been there.

The answer for that is “I have this hope that is an anchor for my soul.” Soon we all realize we are not the captain of our fate. We don’t have everything under control nor will we ever have control of every situation in our lives. But, there is someone who is working all things together for the good of those who love him, who has a plan and a purpose for the lives of his children. His name is Jesus. When life takes a turn you aren’t expecting, those are the times you have to cling to Him the tightest, trusting that His plan is what is best. That is easier said than done, but keep pursuing Him. I have found in my life that His plans were always better than mine, and slowly He’s revealing that to me.

The end of your plan isn’t the end of your life. There is more out there. You may not be the captain of your fate, but you can be the master of your soul. You can choose to be happy despite your circumstances. You can change directions at any point and go a different way. You can take the bad and make something beautiful out of it, if you allow God to work in your heart.

SEE ALSO: To The Girl Patiently Waiting With An Impatient Heart

So, make the best of that school you did get in to. Own it. Make new friends- you may find they are better than the old ones. Apply for more scholarships, or get a job. Move on from the guy that broke your heart; he does not deserve you. God has a guy lined up for you who will love you completely. Spend all the time you can with the loved one with cancer. Pray, pray hard for healing. Study more. Apply for more jobs, or try to spend your summer serving others instead. Join a different club or get involved in other organizations on campus. Find your delight first in God and then pursue other activities that make you happy; He will give you the desires of your heart.

My friend, it is going to be OK.

Cover Image Credit: Megan Beavers Photography

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The ABCs of My First Weeks at College

But why are there never paper towels in the community bathroom?

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