By Paulette Ballard
As told by Angie Sizemore of Huntersville:
I was excited to begin my first day of kindergarten and looked forward to making new friends.
After entering the school and finding my room, I sat down at a colored table. Our teacher entered the classroom, introduced herself and asked how we were doing. I thought to myself, “This lady is really nice. School may be OK after all.”
She then asked, “Are any of you children left-handed?”
I raised my hand, wondering why she wanted to know. I felt my stomach start to tighten up as though my mind knew this was a sign of something bad.
The second week of school, my teacher suggested I be removed from her class because I was left-handed. She said left-handed people weren’t as smart as right-handed people. She then suggested I be put in developmental classes to learn sign language and other developmental skills.
My teacher voiced to the principal that she wanted the left-handed children removed from her class. He advised her these children could not be removed from her class, because she didn’t like the hand they wrote with.
Following this, she gave me bad grades on everything. I remember going home from school crying and thinking I was stupid. I couldn’t cut papers with scissors because scissors were not made for left-handed people. My mother then taught me how to use scissors with my left hand and I felt better. Still my grades showed no improvement.
For several years prior to school, my grandmother tried to prepare me for what I would face being a “lefty.” She tried to make me use my right hand, but I wouldn’t do it. I now understand why she tried to change me. She had grown up in a very prejudiced society, and she was didn’t want me to be hurt.
My teacher sent a letter home informing my mother I was being taken out of her class due to my bad grades. I was afraid a new teacher wouldn’t want me in her class either.
The next day when I arrived at school, my teacher took me across the hall to my new classroom. As we approached the door to that room, I began to cry. I had been treated so badly in the first teacher’s classroom, I was afraid this one wouldn’t be any different. I still didn’t have the new friends I had been hoping to make either.
I walked into the class and all the kids said, “Hi.” My new teacher gave me a hug and told me I could sit anywhere I wanted to. From that moment on, I felt welcomed in this class, and my grades showed a great improvement.
My mom asked my teacher, “How could there be such a dramatic improvement in her grades from the first teacher’s class and this class?”
My teacher said she didn’t know the answer because I was a very good student.
My kindergarten year made a drastic turn after this. I passed each level necessary for completion of the class and received many awards.
In eighth grade, I was inducted into the honor society. I sent my prejudiced, kindergarten teacher an invitation to come so she could see that I had excelled instead of failed as she had led me to believe I would do.
Paulette Ballard collects moving, funny or interesting everyday stories. If you have a story to submit for the “Moments” column, email Paulette at firstname.lastname@example.org. Include your name and telephone number.