Before I even started school people felt that I was not going to amount to much. At the age of four I started speech lessons because basically I could not speak well enough for anyone to understand me. The story goes downhill from there.
First grade was a struggle. Now I not only had difficulty speaking, but my troubles were compounded with the fact that I was expected to learn to read and I just couldn't do it. My parents grew more and more frustrated. They bought books and offered great rewards if I could read one of them from start to finish to them. Well, my with my speech problems and now my reading problems, I just found reading something that I did not like to do and so avoided it whenever possible.
Second grade was not much better. I still struggled with the inability to read, taking speech lessons, and basically I was beginning to not care for school. It was in second grade that the teacher decided that I was a definite candidate for special education. I remember the days of testing and taking the physical exams. However, after all that, they decided that I did not qualify for special education or, as far as that goes, nothing else except for the speech lessons that I was being given.
It was in third grade that the school district built a new school close to where I lived. I remember going there with my parents and helping to get the school ready so that we could transfer. It was a happy day that we started school at Vandalia. However, things were still not much better as far as my schooling was concerned and did not get better for the next two years.
It was now time for fifth grade. Mrs. Wakefield was my teacher, and if ever there was a teacher that deserved a gold star, it was her. She did not make me feel defeated. On the contrary, she went out of her way to let me know that I could be whatever I wanted to be. She helped me in so many ways and built my self-concept to the point where I actually did believe that I could do something special. And that is just what I did.
For the past 22 years, I have been a fifth grade teacher. Because of Mrs. Wakefield's influence in my life, I am now encouraging students who have had difficulties in their lives to believe that they can overcome and become someone. I have won numerous awards such as Teacher of the Year and nominated to Who's Who Among America's Teachers four times by former students, but I owe it all to one fifth grade teacher who believed in me and challenged me to be all that I could be.
I still have a class picture of her with her fifth grade class hanging on the wall of my office, for I now work for the State Department of Education as a Science Coach, encouraging other teachers to reach out to their students.
So I challenge you. find that student who needs that special touch that only you can offer and challenge him/her. You too can earn that gold star in his/her eyes.