She Called Me Stupid!
Even though you are no longer here, your presence left a mark on my life. I moved into your class in Standard Four after years of being placed into so-called C and D classes. Moving into your class to work with the brightest of the school finally felt like the validation I needed. In reality, I was never an A+ student and I was acutely aware of this. Finally, because of a higher grade average the previous school term I gained admittance into your A class. I thought, at last, my intelligence was not only acknowledged but also rewarded, but I was wrong.Instead, I walked into the same negative reinforcement I feared.
I entered your class with the hope that I would not only succeed but also excel. Instead, my experience involved a teacher taking 25-30 students and further separating them into her favorite "bright" students and not bright students. The rat race I thought I had escaped at 9 years old was instead intensified. I was now thrown into a classroom with a strict, hard teacher who belittled her students and created competition, jealousy and envy among 9-11-year-old girls. A woman who created a culture that grew the insecurities that already existed in a little girl trying to do her best. This culminated with you being the first person to voice out loud something I was telling myself."You are stupid!".
After I left school and the years went on, with time I developed compassion for the woman who taught me. In the beginning, my parents trusted the care I would receive because you taught my older sister. However, a younger, vibrant, brilliant woman who may have had a bit more patient with her students taught my sister. Instead, I received a woman no less brilliant as a teacher but a lot less vibrant towards teaching. A woman who was counting down her days to retirement. A woman who also had two teenage children in school and a husband. Basically, her own family with her own stresses. As a child, however, I didn't know this. As a child, all I saw was someone saying, out loud, that thought that lingered in my mind
Confronted with Denial
Though I may have thought this about myself, even then as a child I knew it was wrong. When my mother confronted you about the incident, you denied the situation completely. Additionally, you asked the other students if this was true,which they of course they denied. I have always felt hurt and anger at their denial but in retrospect, how could they speak up? They saw the backlash that came to students who didn't stay within your favor.
However, this time wasn't the best time for me to experience this negativity. I had begun to nature my confidence around this time. Instead, your words only made me think well now someone sees who I really am. Being placed in lower streamed classes because of my grades sowed a seed in my mind. Miss, you may not have been the one who planted the seed of inferiority in my mind but like the school system, you reinforced it.
Forgiveness starts with me
Although this letter started out for you, I realize the person who needed it the most was myself. I believed myself stupid way before I ever heard you speak it. I write this letter as an adult and I know now after much work that I am smart, intelligent and beautiful, inside and out. Grades and class placement never defined my intelligence. These were just a method used to move students on the conveyor belt of the education system.Today the pain you inflicted no longer travels with me. If on some days I happen to revert to the story or pain, I remind myself there was never any truth to this story. IT WAS A LIE!!!
I can finally release your ghost that has traveled with me up to this point.
Rest In Peace Miss,