How the Public Schools Changed My Life
September 2, 1992 (Kindergarten)
(An older friend helps write the journal) It’s nap time and I hate it. It is stupid we can’t play right now. Who ever would want naptime? No one I know. Mommy says Mrs. Collins my kindergarten teacher thinks I need something called family therapy. It sounds like fun, I don’t think mommy is happy to go though, maybe she is too old to have fun. Mrs. Collins says I have too much energy and I eat the play-do even though she tells me not to. But mommy says that Mrs. Collins thinks I am a “diamond in the rough.” I think that’s good, I saw it in the Disney movie Aladdin once.
January, 20th 1997 (Fourth Grade)
I hate fourth grade! I am the only kid in my entire class who didn’t get Terrific Kid. That’s given to kids who are really good, and of course, I get nothing. The only thing I got is a certificate for being the “Pack rat of the year.” That is so dumb. Who would want that? My teacher Mrs. Ogletree talks to me a lot about my problems with kids. It seems like no one likes me. My best friend Ashley won’t play with me anymore either. I think its because she thinks I am weird and dorky. Mrs. Ogletree says its my fault, but I think she’s wrong. I am also the only one out of my friends not to get into this program called Academically Gifted or “AG.” I asked Mrs. Ogletree why and she says its only for kids who do well on their End of Grade tests and make A’s and B’s. It really makes me feel stupid. I feel dumb like I can’t do anything right. I don’t understand why other kids don’t like me and why I can’t be smart like the other kids.
October 24th 1999 (Seventh Grade)
I just got done running for Vice President, and of course, I didn’t win. I put around posters everywhere with my picture in hopes that people would vote for me. But the kids ripped them up, drew stuff on my face, and even put “is” in between my name, so it would say “Olivia IS Aman.” That really hurts my feelings. I don’t understand why people are so mean here, even worse then elementary school. I don’t feel like the teachers are great either. Last year I got suspended from school because the whole year this guy kept picking on me and making me uncomfortable. Of course, I told my teacher, and she did nothing. One day, he backed me in a corner and threw a chair at me when the teacher wasn’t around. I lost it. I punched him really hard in the eye. The teacher came in and I got suspended, even though it was self defense. I have a good teacher this year who encourages me that my writing is good, but I still just don’t have much confidence in myself. Not to mention I have acne all over my face. Its horrible. People call me pepperoni face, and it makes me not want to go to school. Mom thought about sending me to a private school because of all the problems I have been having, but I don’t think that is going to happen. I wouldn’t make any friends there either, especially since I would be new. I got tested recently to see if I was smart enough to join AG. Of coarse not, I am too stupid. It feels like everyone in my school is in it but me. I really don’t have many friends, and it makes me feel depressed. Hopefully things will get better for me, probably not. I just hate school, I wish I just didn’t have to go anymore. I heard you can drop out when you are sixteen. I really think I am going to do that.
February 4th, 2002 (Ninth Grade)
School really sucks. I sleep every day in class and just don’t give a shit what grades I make. I’m not smart and I am dropping out when I am sixteen so it really doesn’t matter anyway. Plus my social studies teacher is a bitch. She gives everyone else good grades and she screws me over. I actually spent a lot of time on an essay once and thought it was really good. As usual, it wasn’t. Nothing I ever do is good enough. A lot of my friends are going to be taking advanced placement classes next year. I would never take a class like that, I would never get through it! In dance I never get put in the front, and I always get yelled at. I used to like dance, but if I suck so bad I might as well quit. I’ve also been drinking, smoking, and hanging out with boys a lot. It seems like I have a lot more friends now and people give me a lot more attention. So, who needs school? My parents hate me and are always grounding me. I wish I could just move out of the house. I really feel like the public school system has fueled me to be like I am. If I would have had better teachers, who not only taught but actually cared, I would be a lot more confident and smart than I am today.
May 12th, 2004 (Eleventh Grade)
Its amazing looking back at the grades I use to make and my attitude towards school. I am a totally different person. With just a small encouragement from my tenth grade English teacher, Mr. Benjamin Worthington, I was on my way to a class I thought I would never take. Advanced Placement. Yeah, that’s right, the girl who said she would never do it has eaten her words. Mr. Worthington not only encouraged me to be the best student that I could be, he also helped me to love reading and writing in general. His class was the most enjoyable class of the day, because he made it interesting and fun, yet he was still hard on me enough to stay on top of all my assignments. Good ol’ Mr. Worthington. I will never forget that awkward voice. He never shaved that blonde, stubbly beard of his. But he had the most welcoming, sincere eyes. When he told me I was better, I believed him. And turns out, he was right. Now I am currently enrolled in two AP classes in which I have received nothing but A’s in. I pulled my class rank up from 120 to 30 out of 370 students. I am now in the top ten percent of my class and was a marshal for graduation, the people who get to lead in the seniors and wear sashes to show what they have earned academically. Who on earth would have thought that I would be in the top ten percent of my class? I have totally straightened my act up, in and out of school. I have a wonderful boyfriend, a family that loves me and is actually proud of me, and awesome friends who support me instead of bring me down. In dance, I was never center stage. I was always put into the back for my lack of interest. This year, I played the lead role of Clara in my dance productions’ The Nutcracker My teachers and peers alike are in total awe. All it took was a few encouraging words from a teacher. One teacher. A teacher who taught me that I was better than below average, unworthy, and a waste of someone’s time. In turn I started to believe that. I had that mentality. I was worthless, but only because I thought I was. And now, I have finally erupted as a beautiful butterfly from the bindings of the “public education cocoon.” Now, I never let others bring me down. I know that I am better and can do better than what any teacher sets my goal at. I am academically gifted, although I wasn’t admitted into the program in elementary and middle school. I am beautiful, although once people called me ugly because of my face. And I can overcome any obstacle anybody puts in front of me. Public school can kiss my ass.