This I Believe

Davis - Memphis, Tennessee
Entered on August 18, 2007

This I believe: time and effort make most things turn out okay.

I was asked speak to my classmate at my school. Grace-St. Luke’s. I have been going to

this school for almost ten years. They wanted me to talk about what I had learned. I shared three small stories about three memorable first days of school.

My first days of kindergarten were lousy. I remember having my mom walk me in. I dreaded her leaving me because I didn’t have any friends yet. I was nervous about whether my teachers would like me. Or, if I would like them. My mom and dad had to be at work early back then, so I got to school early, like 7:00 in the morning. Morning after morning, I sat in the cafeteria with the Early Lady. The Early Lady is now my friend, Ms. Glueck. If I am ever early to school to this day, I stop to say “hey” to Ms. Glueck. That kindergarten year, things turned around for me when Ms Glueck introduced me to another boy that came early. He was a second grader at the time, named Sam Pankey. I thought second graders were so big and so cool. Sam would talk to me in the mornings. When the bell rang, he would walk me to my classroom. I still see Sam. He goes to high school with my sisters comes to my house to study with them.

The first days of third grade were really bad for me. Nothing went well from the beginning. Let’s see. I flunked the first three spelling tests. My teacher was on me about my handwriting – like my teachers are now. And, in third grade, they did this crazy thing called DEAR – Drop Everything and Read –, which I hated! Thank goodness my teacher, Mrs. Stevens, would let me get under the table and play with LEGOs. See, I couldn’t read. At all. I could build airplanes, though. And, Mrs. Stevens would let me keep all of the planes that I had built together. I lined them all up under that table. And, within the first three weeks, I had a whole fleet of them. Before I knew it, I was pulled out of school and on a flight to San Francisco. I spent 3 ½ months there learning to read. I had four teachers each day. They would swap out teaching me so that they stayed fresh in order to keep pushing me to do something that was incredibly hard for my brain to do. The good thing about all this, besides seeing some cool things in San Francisco, is that I found out that I was not dumb, just dyslexic.

Then there was the beginning of seventh grade. This was a beginning where persistence paid off for me. A little background is needed. Since sixth grade, I had been asking my principal Mr. Kvande if I could start a unicycle club. He told me he would consider it if I had an adult sponsor and at least four members. I looked all spring. I could not find an adult that could ride a unicycle, or was willing to learn, or was available, as in not already sponsoring a club. The year ended and off I went to seventh grade. The week before school started, I was hanging around the office and met Mr. Carswell, the new Head of the Lower School. I started talking to him and found out, by God, that he could ride a unicycle. I had finally found my sponsor. So, I picked up the phone and called my friends. I asked if they wanted to join the GSL Unicycle Club. And, eight or nine of them did. Next, we had to find a location. The fire lane and sidewalk outside the Lower School worked, and we were set. I have a club centered around something I love to do, ride unicycles with my friends.

My stories about three first days of school capture my experience at GSL in this way. In kindergarten, it just time for me to make some friends. Like Ms. Glueck. Like Sam. Like my classmates. I think we will be friends long after we leave GSL. In third grade, it took time for me to learn to read. And, a lot of effort. I think that appreciating effort has made me someone not afraid to work hard. In seventh grade, it took time to organize a club. It took effort to find a sponsor and members. What the club and unicycling has taught me is about balance – literally, and figuratively. I will take a sense of balance from GSL as I go on to more schooling and into life. Balance, combined with time and effort will make everything turn out okay. This I believe.