A Second Time Around

Summer is here, and this is the time of year I reflect on the specters of past semesters. One incident that really tugged at my heart muscles involved what I have deemed "A Second Time Around" student. These students are older and have families, careers, and are just trying to do better and go farther for the sake of their love partners and offspring. Like the fresh meat/fresh-faced adolescents, they all go through a Never Ending Story-like oracle/gate where their reading comprehension, grammar, and overall writing skills are tested, along with their courage. :-)

Sometimes, they score low on the assessment and are recommended to drop the class and take college prep classes. I have personally recommend students to do so, but only if they had met the requirements for it and their writing sample caused me to get a nose bleed. However, I never pick at their personal lives and just judge by the work. This student told me, after transferring into my class at the last minute, that her previous professor looked at her writing sample, grimaced, and then asked when was the last time she was in college. She was so embarrassed.

I have never asked a student that question, and I feel that it is not right to do so. I gave her my diagnostic, and while her skills showed some grammar and punctuation weaknesses, she did adhere to the prompt and answered it. Thus signaling to me, she should stay in my class, but I recommended tutoring and making her well aware of my office hours and e-mail address. Between the English tutors and her e-mailing me with questions, she successfully navigated her way through my class well above passing.

She shared with me, during my final round of office hours, that the other professor really dented her self-esteem, and it almost made her rethink her choice of going back to school. And then, someone told her that I was a wonderful professor who had the patience for second timers, like herself. I was flattered, but I needed her to realize that she needed to harden herself against this negativity. I told her to never let a person, professor, or society, for that matter, do that to her again. I have been dealing with people like that my whole life. My kindergarten teacher told my mother I was retarded, even though I could read and write at such a very young age. Her beef was I just wouldn't sit still and couldn't use scissors properly. ( Two degrees later, and I still can't cut anything straight.) In addition, I had severe test anxiety all throughout grade school and high school, but I still managed to get into college, despite what certain guidance counselors thought. Not to mention, all the times I was called down to their office for my angst-ridden/disturbing poetry and fiction. Then came graduate school, where many of my pieces were so harshly criticized that one of my classmates was so bold to tell me, in gobs of condescending red ink, that they would never be published. Years later, many of them have graced numerous magazines and journals. I am currently working on getting them published as a collection. #alwayssubmittingneverquitting

I told her this and went back one more generation. I needed this lesson to stick to her ribs and resonate. My mother's parents were told to give her up to the state and institutionalize her when it was discovered she had a severe learning disorder. The doctors said she would never learn to read, write, or speak properly and would always be a burden. My grandparents refused to accept that. They made sure to instill in her early the mentality of not quitting and provided her with best education that they could. And now, my mother reads so much, that she averages about two books a week.

I hope this student walked away with a stronger sense of what I like to call Falcorion wisdom. This wonderful character wisely preached the magical potency of never giving up.

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