kristen - bozeman, Montana
Entered on March 18, 2009

I believe in fairness.

When I was in third grade, I had a teacher who separated our class into two groups. The “smart” kids were on the right and I was on the left side of the class with the rest of the “underachieving” students. Our teacher made it clearly known to us why and how she had segregated us. It was her last year teaching before retirement. I remember more than one occasion when she would single me out in front of the class to show that I had not finished my homework, or that it was done incorrectly. I would lay my head on my desk and cry audibly. About once a week, if not more often, I would be made to stay in from recess and write over and over the multiplication tables or to do long division problems. I went home crying everyday to my parents, questioning her motives. The year before I was at the top of the class with my reading skills, and was under consideration to be in the gifted and talented program. My third grade teacher’s idea of reading included copying, word for word and tracing the pictures in books on “Mexico”. We spent an entire month learning and copying books about the Redskins football team. She would allow students from the “smart” side of the class to have free time in the library so they could work on more complex projects. I distinctly remember going to the bathroom one time and finding them looking up all the “bad” words in the dictionary. One of those kids was my best friend, and she was always filling me in on all the things that she was allowed to do. This only made me feel hurt, confused and it deeply undermined my self confidence, for many years that followed.

The rest of my school career was spent catching up emotionally and educationally from that traumatic year. I learned the fine art of creatively answering questions, pretending that I had read the material. To this day I am still a very slow reader that I prefer to listen to audio books. I had teachers through the years accuse me of cheating, and it was often true because I didn’t trust in my own capabilities. It wasn’t until my senior year of high school, with the help of my exceedingly patient parents, that I finally felt confident enough to fully participate and challenge myself in the classroom. I vowed at an early age to become a teacher so that no one would go through what I did under my supervision.

Now I am a Montessori Toddler Teacher and I relish in being able to help set my kids up for success. When I make a mistake in dealing with a student, I talk it over with fellow teachers and take my lessons to heart, so as to never repeat them. I try to be as fair as possible with all of my students, working within their individual needs. I feel blessed to be a part of a community of parents, students and teachers who are honest, fair and respectful no matter what frustrations we come upon. I love the challenges I face everyday as a teacher, it keeps me on my toes.