Excerpt from Chapter One: The Year of the Library
I will never forget the year Christian and I had Sr. Constance. After a few weeks of school, Sr. Constance had concluded that Christian and I did not belong in her class. I never knew what Christian and his parents were offered but one night, Sr. Constance called my house and made the following offer concerning my education. Instead of attending class in her classroom, every day, I would report to the library. I could sit quietly or read a book, or do anything else I wanted to do, as long as I was quiet and as long as I never actually stepped foot into Sr. Constance’s classroom. In return for accepting this offer, I would receive a 90 in every subject on my report card. I remember my Mom and Dad explaining the phone call to me and then asking me what I thought of the offer. Mom and Dad never voiced their opinion until after I shared mine. This was something I always appreciated. After a long pause, I told my parents that although I do enjoy spending time in the library, I had never received anything below a 97 on my report card, in any subject, so it didn’t seem right that I would get a report card full of just 90s.
My Mom insists to this day that my exact words were, “A report card of all 90s, that just wouldn’t paint an accurate picture of me as a student.” I don’t remember exactly what I said but I do remember how I felt. I remember my Dad smiled in such a way as to say, “That’s my girl.” My Mom said with a twinkle in her eye, “Alright then, it is decided. We will decline Sr. Constance’s kind offer and you will continue to attend her class.”
I guess I should have focused on the emotional aspect of not being welcome in my own classroom but I was logical. Maybe Christian was logical, too, because much to Sr. Constance’s disbelief and horror, neither Christian nor I took advantage of Sister’s kind invitation to spend a year in the library. Sr. Constance had decided that Christian and I were unteachable. I asked too many questions and finished assignments too quickly and asked for extra work and Christian was always lagging behind and slowing the class down and asking for extra help, so we were almost banished or “relocated” from our own classroom. Sr. Constance had chosen a tried and true strategy of special education for dealing with me and Christian, “Out of sight. Out of mind.” I guess it was a good thing for me that even as a child, I just didn’t think the offer was high enough. Who knows what I would have done had Sister offered me all 98s.
The Tide Turns as a Heroic Teacher Emerges
Before I knew it, it was the first day of school, again. I wondered how this teacher would treat me and Christian. Where would she want us to be, instead of in her class? Would she offer me all 96s on my report card, if I agreed to stand in the janitor’s closet all day and would I be tempted to take it? What I didn’t know was that this was the year that would change the course of my life. Yes, that’s right; my entire life was changed in this year by my teacher, Mrs. Egan. Mrs. Egan had…