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“In Spite of You” by Dani Mayo

September 2016

In Spite of You | ENG 111 Essay | 09/11/2016

My heart quickens as I step into the classroom knowing that this will be like every other year. The smell of fresh school supplies and the rustle of my peers surround me as I wishfully look for my name on a desk in the back of the room.  With my luck, I’m not sure why it was a surprise when I found my name in the front. When I sat down, I got a good look at my teacher. She has short brown hair, and caked on makeup that is darker than her skin color. It’s a new year, a new classroom, and a new teacher, but everything is going to be the same as the years before. While my teacher goes through the dreadful syllabus, I look around and see the many posters on the wall. There were posters of every color. Some were quotes, some were about homework, but there was one poster that caught my attention. The comical characters made it hard to keep my eyes off of it. This poster talks about “The Key to Success.” I suddenly get a sick feeling in my stomach. I twiddled the braid in my hair as I thought about the experiences I had the years before. I will never be as successful as my teachers want. I was always known as “that kid.”. The one who was yelled at everyday, and the one that always had to sit out during recess. I couldn’t blame the other kids for not wanting to be my friend. It’s not that I talked back to the teacher or didn’t turn in my homework; I simply didn’t like to read, and that was my downfall.

Weeks have passed, and this school year is going exactly the way I hoped it wouldn’t.
As I walk into my English class, my stomach ties up in knots. My entire body shakes as my teacher walks to her computer. Knowing exactly what she is doing, I tap my fingers on the cold hard desk. Annoyed, the teacher loudly asks, “Why don’t you have your AR points? You’ve been reading the same book for three weeks now!” There it was. My daily dose of humiliation. Not only is the teacher annoyed with me, but the whispering of my classmates tells me that I’m being judged. I keep silent at her question, for I didn’t want to make my situation worse. As my teacher goes through the classes AR progress, I let out a sigh of relief. The worst part of my day is over. I couldn’t help but to feel a little jealous when over half the class was given candy for meeting their point goal.  Soon it was recess, and I was told to bring a book outside with me. Instead of facing my peers, I was instructed to face my teacher while I pretended to read a story that I had no interest in. I felt degraded sitting on the itchy grass three feet away from my caked face teacher. Although I couldn’t see anything that was going on behind me, I could still hear screeching swings and laughter of everyone having fun without me. If only I liked to read as much as everybody else, I could be having fun too. Why am I so different?

After a long day, class is finally dismissed. My parents ask me how school was, but I’m afraid to tell them. What if they get mad at me like my teacher does? School is already hard enough. I keep to myself and reply with a positive answer. “School was fine,” I say, fiddling with the monkey keychain on my bookbag.

The next day I woke up with a terrible stomachache, which was becoming an everyday thing for me. Fearing I’m going to be yelled at by my teachers, I beg my parents to stay home. “You’ve missed way too many days of school,” my parents reply, as usual. “Try going today.” I grab my worn out binders and start walking to the bus. As I placed my head against the cold window, I start thinking of things I could say to my teacher when my she yells at me again. I had spent the night before at play rehearsal for Charlotte’s Web.  I spend most of my free time reading over my script and going over my lines instead of reading my books assigned for school. Maybe she would understand since the all classes in my grade are actually reading the storyCharlotte’s Web. Anticipating myself for what is to come, I prepare the conversation I will soon have with my teacher.

The school day drags on until I notice my teacher walking to her computer. I work up the confidence, and I remind myself that this is going to be the time that I will finally stick up for myself. My teacher sighs, and I know she is looking at the little progress that I’ve made in the last couple of weeks. “Why aren’t you reading?” She finally says, with a frustrated tone in her voice. “Well you see,” I begin to say, clearing my throat.I’ve been a little busy with…” Before I could continue, my teacher gives me a sharp look. “You were busy? I have to grade papers and I have children to feed. And yet, I still find the time to read.” At this point, the entire class couldn’t help but to chuckle. I could feel my face heat up from embarrassment. “Well what book are you reading right now?” My teacher asks, as she taps her pen in a fast motion. I could tell she was annoyed. “I see that you finally finished your other book.” I look down, avoiding her raccoon eyes. “I’m reading Little Women.” I reply, avoiding the glances from the kids around me. I recently saw the play and wanted to read the book. “Are you serious? If it took you three weeks to just read one book, then why are you reading a higher level one?” I try to hold back tears that form in my eyes when she takes away my book and replaces it with a smaller one. It makes me think of the time in second grade when I wanted to read a Junie B. Jones book, but I was told I wasn’t allowed. If teachers want us to like reading, why not encourage us to read the books that interest us? I feel deflated.

Days like these continued. I became more paranoid with every little action made at school. My peers didn’t see that I was capable of reading my theatre scripts in day and memorizing my lines in a week.  They only saw what the teacher portrayed me as, which was a troublesome child that would never meet up to expectations. I wish my elementary teachers could see me now.  I make good grades learning in my way. Oh, and I actually do love to read. Looking back at my experiences in elementary school, I wish I had stood up for myself more often. Teachers can either make or break their students. Growing up with theatre, I was able to learn through different ways. Not only did I learn to make friends, but I learned life skills in each show. I learned about the circle of life in Charlotte’s Web, I was educated about America in the 1950’s because of Grease, and I recently gained a better understanding of the French Revolution thanks to Les Miserables. Therefore, in spite of the educational system, I became successful in my own way.