School should be the safest and most rewarding place you go too. You should be able to walk into a classroom, be greeted by a teacher who loves her students unconditionally, respects them as individuals, and keeps them from harms way. They are for the next 6 hours at least a parent, a confidant, a doctor, a referee....I could go on and on the daily giving a teacher shows her students each day they walk into her classroom. However, my story isn't quiet the sunshine and roses I wish I could write about.
I loved school, at least from what my mom would tell me. I adored my kindergarten teacher. Loved going to school, my sister and I went together. I was five and she was four. At that time, kindergarten accepted kids who were four years old. We had a great time. I remember painting, coloring, learning my ABC's. Enjoying the ride on the bus. I have great and happy memories of my first year at "big school."
When 1st grade rolled around I was excited for all the FIRSTS. Bringing lunch to school, staying all day and not coming home, taking the bus with the bigger kids. Learning to read bigger books, do hard math. I would be in the same class as my very best friend Seth. I was stoked.
My teacher, we will call her Miss. "A" was dressed in a pretty orange dress. She had short hair and was in her mid 30's. She greeted us all at the door. Excited to start her first day of school with all of her new students. I was ready to go.
The first few weeks of school went fantastic. I have no real memories of me thinking my year wasn't going to be a great one. Until the day things started to change....
My first memory of things going bad was at Christmas time. We were all sitting in class learning Math. She was trying to help a student understand how to do a problem. He just couldn't seem to grasp what he was learning and she clearly had enough of trying to help him. She said "I am going to hit you if you don't figure this out on your own." He started to tear up and asked if he could go to the bathroom (we had bathrooms in our classroom) to wipes his face. She let him go. But on his way back, when he was walking to his seat, she took the roll from the wrapping paper and whacked him on his butt. Hard. Hard enough we all heard it and looked up at the boy she hit. He started crying again. I felt bad. So I told her that it wasn't nice to hit people. Especially kids. That got me into trouble and my name on the board. Strike one.
After Christmas I thought maybe with time off she would be the teacher we all had in the beginning of the year. She wasn't exactly the person you wanted to sit on their lap and give hugs too. I am not sure what we were doing that brought on her anger this time around. All I can remember is we were doing spelling or reading and this other little boy couldn't read a particular word. Clearly she was frustrated beyond belief and decided that hitting him over the head with the thickest and hardest book she could find was more appropriate. I didn't say anything this time around, but I cried. Uncontrollably. She went over to the blackboard and immediately wrote my name on it. She told me I was being "disruptive" REALLY , ME? Your the one hurting all of us and I am being disruptive. I wanted to punch her.
We now come to STRIKE THREE. My turn. It was spring time. The snow was melting off, the playground was now in use. Snowbanks still covered some of the school grounds, so it was nice to be able to play in the sun, but still throw snow balls too.
I walked in school like any other day. By springtime, I dreaded going to school. Begged my mom to let me stay home. Did everything I could. It didn't work as much as I hoped. Despite my efforts to try to tell my parents what was going on at school, they didn't really believe me. They thought I was mistaken by what was going on and that I was making things bigger then they actually were. Its your "imagination" Kiley, they would say.
Until this day. This day was different. This day the bad things happened to me. This day she just went too far. It was break time. During this time we were able to use the bathrooms, go to the water fountain for some water. Talk to our friends for a few minutes. I needed to use the bathroom so I walked in like I had done everyday since August. The girls bathroom didn't have locks on the stall doors. I remember hating to use the bathroom as I was always afraid someone would walk in on me. So when this little girl walked in to use the bathroom she asked me if I would hold the door closed for her while she went. "SURE." I said. I don't mind. About a minute later, my teacher had come into the bathroom looking for me. This is what happened and what was said that morning:
Miss. "A": "WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN HERE?"
Me: (I think she thought I was fooling around.) "I am holding this door for the little girl."
Miss. "A":"OH NO YOUR NOT, I TOLD YOU TO GET INTO THE CLASSROOM."
Me:(She is actually screaming at me.) "she is almost done."
She then proceeds me to grab me by my shoulders with a grip I have never known. She took my entire body, picked it up and slammed my head against the tile bathroom walls.
Miss. "A": You will "NOT" disobey me again. I don't care that your holding the door for her. When its time to go into the classroom, you go."
She then proceeds to push me out of the bathroom and into the hall. Which was a HUGE mistake.
Me: "Don't push me." While yelling at the top of my lungs.
Miss. "A": "Get into that classroom right now and sit down. You will be staying after school."
Me: "Your a B!@$*!" I said. With full furry and as loud I could. Which she then proceeds to grab me by my arm.
Me: "Let go of my arm, your hurting me, Let go, let go."
Miss. "A": I will be calling your parents about this today. You will not be going home after school. They will be coming to get you.
Me: "Go ahead. They wont believe anything you tell them. Your a bad teacher and a B!@#$." (Of course my language for a 1st grader probably wasn't very appropriate. But I was so angry I just wanted her to hurt the way I did. And my seven year old thinking thought it was the only way.)
By this point there are teachers out in the hallway. Kids coming out of there classrooms trying to figure out what was going on. She of course told them it was all my fault, that I "hit" her and I wasn't listening. I didn't know this until later down the road that she had said that. Of course she would blame a 7 year old.
I sad at my table and cried. Cried because she hurt my head. Cried because I had to stay after school. Cried because I wasn't going home. Cried because I wanted my Mom and Dad. Seth (my close friend, who probably does not remember this, came over and asked if I was ok)
My next memory is the kids lining up in the hallway to go home. The older kids asking if I was ok. They knew I wasn't a kid who EVER got into trouble, so to see me in detention was shocking.
My dad finally came in. Which felt like an eternity to me. I just cried. I told him EVERYTHING that happened, but I felt as though he didn't believe me. As a seven year old, the only thing I wanted to do was be good. You automatically have this fear of having your name on the board, getting sent to the principals office, getting in trouble with your teacher. I am not sure how this comes about. How does a child know this can happen before they even step foot in school? I didn't really have older siblings, or older friends that told me this. I just knew.
After my dad arrived, it was myself, my teacher, and the principal all meeting in the classroom to talk about the incident. The principal immediately asked what had happened and the teacher of course told her side of the story. Which was all but a lie. I immediately spoke up.
Me: She is lying. That didn't happen at all.
Principal: Then please tell me your side of the story.
Me: I went through the entire story again. Telling it bit by bit. I even threw in the foul language I used. I wasn't about to lie to the principal. I am crying the entire time, just wishing I could go home at this point.
Principal: What do you think should happen? How should we work on this situation. You cannot go around saying things like that to an adult. Especially your teacher.
Me: I want her sorry ass fired. She is a horrible teacher. (at this point, I also mentioned all the other things that were going on with her in the classroom. That I wasn't the first she had hurt.)
Dad: This is been going on all year?
Principal: Kiley, maybe it would be best if you left the room.
Dad: Why don't you go outside and play on the playground?
Me: I want her fired. If I see her back here tomorrow when I come to school. I will never come back.
From that point on I don't remember much. I remember going outside to play. I don't know what was said after I left. I just remember hating her so much I wanted her to just go away.
The following day she was there at the school. I cried going into the classroom, cried sitting at my table. That first day was just horrible. I ended up having an accident because I was too afraid to go to the bathroom. Though I don't even know if my parents knew that.
The following day was just as bad. By then my parents told me that she had gotten a five year probation period. Which means, if she did anything at all to another student her licensed would be revoked and she would loose her job. Seems to me she got the better end of the deal and I was the one being punished. I trusted NO ONE at that point. Not the teachers, not the principal. When it came to school, not my parents. I felt they needed to protect me, and I wasn't getting that going to school with that crazy lady. I even ran away a few times. Left the school completely and ran to my Nana's house. I hated being at that school. Hated it. Things got slightly better. I had two fantastic teachers for 2nd and 3rd grade. I felt safe. But still worried all the time about her.
Years down the road. I am graduating from high school. I am at an event in my town for younger kiddos. I was asked to help out. Of course. Love too. Never thinking that Miss. "A" would be there. I started to feel a little sick, finding ways to walk out of the room. Keep busy without making eye contact.
She walks over, looks at me and says straight in my eyes "I am really sorry for what happened to you that day long ago. I hope you can forgive me someday." To which I say, "I forgave you a long time. I forgive you now. I am going to college to become a teacher. I hope someday, that I am 3x's the teacher you weren't. I hope that no one ever has to go through what I went through. I hope you learned your lesson and that you will never harm a kid again." She told me how proud she was of me, that I have a lot of fight in me and too keep that attitude. She gave me a hug.
I walked away. Smiling. Smiling ear to ear.