Monday, April 6, 2009

Thirty years and NOW he tells me?

I sat at dinner Sunday night with my parents and husband and heard a very interesting story. My father, a successful ex-Secret Service Agent, told me his experiences in school. I knew he'd been a scrappy kid, notorious for getting in trouble, starting fires, jumping off garage roofs, whatever. But he'd never told me this story before.

I won't bore you with the long details. Basically, he spent eighteen years of his life feeling stupid. He didn't understand basic concepts, struggled with reading and math, and shuffled from school to school because his father was in the military.

My father is intelligent. He is hard working, generous, if not a little tough. But he is not stupid.
And yet he spent all those years thinking he was. I have a very hard time imagining that. I admire him in so many ways. He didn't score well on tests, so they didn't bother to further his education in the military. And then, he met my mother.

My mother graduated Phi Beta Kappa, Magna Cume Laude from the University of New Mexico. Currently, she holds two masters degrees and a Bachelors Degree. She supported my Dad when he decided to try college. She helped him with his school work when he needed it. He finally got some support in his educational goals.

I recognize my father in some of my students. His story resonated with me more deeply than any magazine article I've read on the subject. I teach high school English, and I now understand many of my stragglers like I never did before. I'm ashamed to say I didn't see things this way two days ago.

Suddenly, I can't wait for Spring Break to be over. I need to talk to those kids.

Daddy 1 Beth 0

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