By: Annika Nielsen, Grade 11
The worst feeling is when you feel yourself fall behind and just can’t catch up. You try to learn the material but it just doesn't seem to sink in. You feel your legs are being weighed down, slowly sinking, forgetting how to swim. Constantly comparing yourself to other kids. Thoughts in a repeating pattern, “Why can’t I just understand? How come I have to put more effort in? Am I good enough?” That pit in your stomach when divided in what everyone knew was the “smart” and “dumb” groups. Feel ashamed when you hear your name as you get up and head to the “dumb” group.
I went to a small school where this was an everyday process. It was a K-8th grade school called North Lake. Although I loved North Lake, this process of splitting kids was diminishing my self-esteem. Like many others, I have always been hard on myself. I didn't see it as a step to learn more, instead, I felt I would never catch up. I was in second grade testing low in almost every subject.
Finally, when I was tested for an IEP and found I had a gap part of my first-grade year. Unfortunately, nothing had changed even knowing this. I continued to get more and more behind in addition to feeling worse about myself. I would read and reread my homework but still, I couldn't seem to understand. I already was set if all fails I'll work at Mcdonald's. A change needed to be done. Finally, one day I was called out from snack time by my teacher. I was let know I would have a tutor, we would meet every day during recess and snacks. Her name was Mrs. Niehausen.
Mrs. Niehausen, Mrs. Nie for short, welcomed me as I took a seat. I remember how red my face was, ashamed, she knew my terror lurking inside as she offered me dove chocolate with a smile.
She told me all kinds of stories and treated me with kindness. I never felt any judgment. Every day for months she worked with me. We played learning games and she taught me tricks from using my fingers to count and making L’s with my hands to knowing my left and right.
When I was down she knew just what to say. She constantly reassured me that sometimes kids struggle more than others—but that's okay. My once sad face and comments like it needs a little work on all my homework and quizzes soon turned into stickers and smiles.
I felt my confidence slowly go up with Mrs. Nie cheering me on. I felt like I had someone in my corner ready to battle in any war I needed to fight. Looking back, if I never had Mrs. Nie, I wouldn't be where I am today. I am currently a Junior at Arrowhead High school. I am on the Board of National Honors Society, a Chinese Board Member, HOSA, and even help at a coffee shop to work with kids that have special needs. I push myself to work hard even if I have to put in more effort than others. While I struggle I still hear her voice as she helps me along. I couldn't say how thankful I am to have such a teacher like Mrs. Nie, Thank you.