I was born with several severe Speach Impediments, which were discovered soon after my parents adopted me. The Doctors and Speach Therapists told my parents and me that I would NEVER be able to talk. So we, as a family, began to learn American Sign language and I had a picture book created for me.
From the start school was hard for me, no teacher or Special Education assistant in my small school of only 80(ish) kids spoke A.S.L, nor did they make the effort to wait for me as I pointed to the pictures to answer questions. I got behind really quickly, I had to learn the alphabet by sight, not by sound, there for my spelling was really bad and still is not great. People thought that just because I could not speak correctly I could not hear the nasty words they would say, I got called retarded, stupid, dumb, while these words aren’t that bad as an adult they cut deep when I was a child.
As my speech improved I thought the bullying would as well, but it only got worse. Through out Elementry school, I was the main victim, from graffiti about how dumb and stupid I was in the washroom stalls, to glue on my desk chair it continued in the worse form imaginable. Once I got to High School is when the bullying hit the absolute lowest. In grade 8 I would come to school and find my locker gratified with “freak”, “retard”, “slut”, and more. I would walk through the halls and hear the words following me, peers telling me I did not belong at a “normal” school. My locker’s lock had to be replaced almost once a month from my peers bashing it in. I felt hopeless, useless, but one teacher, Mr. David* decided to phone my house, and help me! That teacher did not know me or my family, but he really cared!! I thought there may be a light at the end of the tunnel. In grade 9, a teacher began to do more than just bully me, she verbally abused me. I walked into the band classroom, the first day of school very excited and ready to learn, as I had taught my self the flute all summer in hopes of impressing my new teacher, Ms. thorn*. A week or so into class my flute broke, and we found out there was a LOT wrong with it. I thought I could borrow the school’s flute, but Ms. Thorn had a different idea. As the school was moving she had me sorting and packing the music and HER office, for weeks. When I finally got my flute back I was too far behind to catch up, so Ms. Thorn told me to practice by the book in the practice room book, which was so small I could not stretch my arms across as there was also a piano stuffed in the room with me. From that day on I was sent to that room EVERY day, I was not allowed to be with the class, I began to feel hopeless, and not want to go to class. One day Ms.Thorn came in to review my process at break, I got scared and tried to leave, Ms. Thorn pushed me down and told me I was not to leave after I failed her review she told me that I should not be in music and maybe I should try art or something easier, but I refused as I had wanted to do band scene elementary school when music class was my escape from the bullies. That year she tried to not let me be in the class performance, which I did not participant n a single on, except for one where Mrs. Thorn told me I was not to play the flute as I was not good enough, instead only to play the bass drum, which she then waved at me to stop half way though. Mrs. Thorn even asked my parents to get me “checked” not only in person but also on my report card. Every day I went home crying and I begging my parents to let me stay home. I lost my will to continue, I thought there was no hope, none at all. I ended up phoning Kids Help Phone and they helped me feel less alone and worthless. After I was done in Mrs. Thorn’s class, my trust in teachers was lost, I faced anxiety every time I saw Mrs. Thorn in the halls. I still had that one teacher there for me though, and I now had him for French, and he took the effort to be there and to stand up for me. I had a safe place to be, at for at least one class a day I felt safe, french class was my only reason to smile. I could walk into that class and know that no one would insult me, no teacher will yell at me or treat me any less than equal. Mr. David was the only reason I stayed in school, the only reason I graduated, as he gave me hope that I could overcome my struggles.
In grade 10 I entered a Pageant, and it showed me that I could change what was happening in the schools, so NO kid ever had to g through what I did.
Though the bullying never stopped, and until my last day in grade 12 I still felt anxiety when it came to teachers especially Mrs. Thorn, as even if I saw her out of school my heart would begin to race. I have realized I can help those who have “special” needs like I did, those who are different. I can help those who are being bullied because of who they are feel welcomed and not alone. I had only one person there for me, outside of my family of course, but with the proper, training kids can have more teachers who care, more teachers who will change a life. A smile or a phone call can go a long way, something that is as simple as a minute long to you could stay with someone for a lifetime. For me, one teacher and one phone call kept me in school, saved me. To Mr. David that was one phone call nothing very special, but it saved me, and I will always know there is someone who cares, someone who took the effort to show it.
*Names Changed for Privacy
Categories: Making a Difference Blog