I could never narrow down the path of learning which has led me to this point in life. I can’t pin it all on one defining epiphany that woke me up and made me pay attention. I can tell about all the small things which have added to my experience.

These things may be the “…so you can get into a good college.” statements that I heard throughout my life, the look that my Dad always gives me that says he knew I could do it, or the many privileges I have had in my education. Without these three things I could never have come this far, could never be graduating in May with a wonderful GPA or have the opportunity to stand in front of 129 students as their student teacher this January.

My Mother’s “…so you can get into a good college.” statements left little doubt in my mind about what happens after highschool. I was somewhat amazed to find out later on that there were other children who grew up knowing the “…college isn’t for everybody.” statement instead. Where would I be today if I had known such an option existed? Do our children fail because they have the option or do we fail because we give them that option? My Father’s unfailing belief in me was an annoyance and a crutch. I relied on it through my own doubts of my abilities and tossed it aside when I actually accomplished anything worth merit so as not to ‘toot my own horn’.

To this day I can’t think of a more depressing moment than the one time my Dad said he was disappointed in me. I can’t even remember why he was disappointed, but it was worse than any other punishment he could have given me. In fact, when I think about it I don’t believe he’s ever punished me. In his own way he always told me even the day he was disappointed in me…that he knew I could and can do great things. So for me it was always my parents. They were my learning experiences every day. They could just as easily have been my teachers, aunts, uncles, grandparents, neighbors, etc. because every child simply needs people who don’t give them the option to fail and who know that they can do even better next time. This is why when I was given the chance to experience life on a reservation I used my time to empower the students there. This is why when I student teach I always tell my students that there are NO excuses or failures in this class. This is why when I tutor I am constantly flabbergasted by the change I can see in my student over time as they learn that Ms. Waddy IS coming back and she WILL be interested to note how much they’ve studied since the last session. Because that’s all it takes, good old fashioned interests and belief.

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