I was digging through boxes and found an old photo album, the one with all my school memories. I glanced at my report cards…whoops, looks like I almost failed a few classes in Grade 9! A fairly typical experience for many students since Grade Nine is a transitional year and the changes can be overwhelming.
What is ironic about the fact I had failing grades during the first term in Grade Nine Science and English is now I TEACH Grade Nine (and ten, eleven, and twelve) Science and write fiction. Just goes to show, you change a lot between grade nine and maturity. As I progressed through my high school career, my marks obviously improved; I did not fail any courses and had a number at honours level marks.
I was preparing to apply to university and made the obligatory guidance appointment. The counsellor advised me to apply only to college, that I would never be able to make it through a university program. Based on his recommendation, I didn’t apply except to one school which was going through the accreditation process to reach university status but was still considered a college at the time. I was accepted at that school, into the Bachelor of Nursing degree program, but during my first year fell sick with bronchitis and missed six weeks of the practicum nursing placement. This put me behind, so I decided to transfer schools and programs.
After finishing university and teacher’s college, I ended up obtaining a teaching position in the science department of the high school I had graduated from. While attending the annual staff party, the guidance counsellor in question, a retiree by then, approached me and said, and I quote, “Who are you here with?”
With a blank expression, I asked, “What do you mean?”
He replied, “Who did you marry who is on staff?”
I laughed and replied, “Actually, I’m on staff, in the science department.”
He was more than a little red-faced, spluttering about me having been in a nursing program last he knew. But, what an opening line…”Who are you here with?”. I’ve gotten mileage out of that story when I teach, because I tell the students those around them don’t always have them pegged right, and they can change the course of their life any time they wish. They just need to make it happen.