It was a warm summer's day, and the last day of school. I was balancing my report card on my head while twirling happily around. Wonderful, warm, lovely summer. I was across the street from my home when some neighborhood children caught up to me, shared their report cards, and wanted to see mine. I refused, remembering what my first grade teacher had said about waiting to get home first. A child grabbed my card and slid it out of the envelope. I froze. Too stunned to move. The top of every page was stamped in bright red ink, NOT PROMOTED. The tears came fast and furious. I felt like my sobs could be heard around the neighborhood. My heart was broken. The children apologized and handed the stained card back. I slowly walked home, sobbing the whole way. No one had told me.
And so my summer unhappily began, each day was the same. In the morning I would get dressed, grab a bunch of tissues, and go out back to my swing set. There I would sob uncontrollably as I went back and forth on the swing. My father never said a word to me, and I didn't talk to him either. I knew I had to come up with a game plan. Being five, this was a little difficult. I only felt worse knowing I was getting the same teacher again that I had hated all year. I decided not to talk or answer any questions all year.
I also made a decision that I kept to this day. I was going to grow up, become a first grade teacher, and never ever keep a child back. No student of mine would ever have NOT PROMOTED on the top of their report card. By the third time the teacher called my father to say I wouldn't talk, I decided to forgo that decision. The consequences weren't worth it.
And so I taught for thirty plus years in many different grade levels, doing what ever it took for a child to be successful. It was always my philosophy, "The child never fails the school. The school fails the child." I have never kept a child back. I believe every child can be taught to learn on grade level. I have several stories as to how I accomplished this.