Told to write a paper about the teacher who impacted me the most, here it is. The reason why I’m posting it here is because I hope that one day, when Ms. King is retired and bored with nothing to do, she will google her name and this inspirational masterpiece of awesomeness will entertain her. Thanks Tina!
It was a few days into my junior year, and I had recently received a notification informing me that I would no longer be able to stay in my dual credit English class. As a result, I was going to be placed into the AP version, with a teacher I had never heard of. I felt like my college credit was being stricken away, and all the work I had done was going to waste. Unfortunately, AP testing at my high school was known to produce very few if any passing scores on any AP test. There had just been a lack of care on behalf of both the students and the teachers. Ms. King, I had thought, was not ready to teach at an AP level.
By the time I had actually arrived in class, I had altered my mindset to despise everything about the class. The posters were cliché, her outfit didn’t match, everything petty that I could think about, I thought about. As class finally began, I seated myself next to my friends and away from the overly jolly stranger behind the desk. The first words that came out of her mouth were,” Today is Thursday, so take out a piece of paper and, for an hour, write about anything.”
“Great”, I thought, another English class where we do endless amounts of busy work. By the end of class, she announced,” Make sure to finish reading Act 1 of King Lear over the weekend and highlight three things for discussion.”
This process ensued for two weeks, but occasionally she would lecture about vocabulary words that we needed to know for the AP test. I felt like I wasn’t being prepared, and that, as her first AP class, we were guinea pigs. I also believe she noticed my behavior, making consistent comments on my lackadaisical essays, how I’d often sleep during her lectures, and rarely participate in discussions. In response, I’d shrug my shoulders and tell her I’ve never done very well in English. It wasn’t a lie, far from it actually, because I had never been distinguished in English as I had in my other subjects. Often I would lose track writing essays, and resort to ranting which eventually led to not answering the prompt and receiving an unfavorable score.
It wasn’t until we had to turn in a rough draft for a research paper on King Lear that I started putting in effort. Unfortunately I lacked any real knowledge of the book, and had to resort to watching the movie and extracting as much information as possible from SparkNotes. In other words, I was going to rant about King Lear for five pages. To make matters worse, she told us that, before we submit our final draft, we had to set up a one-on-one to discuss our rough draft. So now I was going to have to make sense out of my rants, and to a person that had rarely heard me talk.
The one-on-one comes, and the first comment she makes to me is,” Keith, did you write this?” I told her with confusion that I had indeed written the paper, and asked her why she asked. “This is one of the best papers I’ve read so far,” she responded.
I can’t recall a time where I’ve felt as many conflicting emotions in a school situation. The combination of happiness and confusion forced me to zone out, and truly grasp what I had just heard. I gave a blank stare for a few seconds, and the only words I could come up with wasn’t a thank you, but an “Are you serious?” We ended up correcting my grammar for the next hour and then I was dismissed.
As the year waned on, I had developed an odd affinity for English that had never been reflected by my grades. I was always mediocre, unable to completely fulfill the expectations previous teachers had placed. Yet here I was, vigorously writing as much as I could every Thursday about English. Ms. King’s main worry about the AP test for me wasn’t that I wouldn’t do well, but that the readers would not be able to understand my handwriting.
Eventually, I became one of the few individuals to ever pass the English 4 AP test at my high school, and Ms. King would go down in my books as the teacher who impacted me the most. The reason being isn’t because she was my favorite, but because she saw something in me that I had no idea existed. She unlocked a very important ability of mine, and made me truly embrace a subject that I had normally shown apathy and disdain towards. Most importantly, she taught me a life lesson, and that lesson is a cliché, to never judge a book by its cover, except this time, I believed it.