I need to take you into the way back machine, grade 6 to be exact.
Elementary school was hard on me. I was an overachieving geek, the quiet girl that people forgot was in a room and most of all, a book nerd.
My home life was pretty harsh. I was the only kid I know that prayed every night for their parents to split up. I escaped through reading. I read everything and anything. Huge novels, magazines, newspapers. You name it, I read it. So when a parental consent form went out for Grade 6 camp asking for $80 and a parental signature, I knew what to do. I didn’t squeal in delight and jump up and down in excitement with my friends. I threw it in the garbage.
The thought of bringing home a piece of paper asking for money from my parents made me sick to my stomach. I knew we didn’t have money for groceries let alone Grade 6 camp. Besides, I could just imagine the fight between my parents. Throwing it out meant less embarrassment for everyone involved.
About a week later, I was called into the principal’s office. He told me I was the only person in grade 6 that didn’t hand in their permission slip and asked me why. I told him that I had made alternative plans, I was going to organize the books in the library (man, I loved the Dewey Decimal system), read a book and write a report that I would hand into my teacher. I told him that there was no need to worry, I had it all figured out. I walked out of his office feeling good about my choice and maybe even a little excited about spending two whole days in the library.
The Principal called me into his office again a few days later. This time he sat me down and handed me a new permission slip. This one only had a spot for a signature and didn’t mention money. He told me that he talked to my teachers and they had decided to put together money out of their own pockets to send me to camp. I was completely shocked and overwhelmed. This ended up being a huge turning point in my life. I finally understood the difference between pity and compassion. I felt like a miracle had taken place. I felt special.
Soon enough, I was squealing in delight and jumping up and down with excitement. Although grade 6 camp was a long time ago, I still remember it vividly. It was my first experience with a panty raid, sneaking out to see boys and I learned every word to Stutter Rap.
I will never forget the generosity and caring nature of my grade 6 teachers. They never questioned why I stayed after the final bell rang to clean chalkboard erasers and organize books. Most of all, they never embarrassed me, pitied me or made me feel less than anyone else.
I can only hope that I can make as much of an impact on another person’s life as my teachers did for me.