Ms. Kelly, Do You Read Blogs?

So often I create blog posts in my mind and they never make it to the blog. Lately, I’ve been recollecting events from the past and I always want to post about them, but I never do. Let’s see if I can actually get this one out on the blog!

Every morning, I drive past a bus stop and a woman awaiting mass transit. She shares an uncanny resemblance to my High School senior year English teacher, Ms. Kelly. As I drive by every morning, I’m briefly taken back to that time and now that I’m in my 30’s I realize that I owe Ms. Kelly a big apology.

High School wasn’t an easy time for me. In the early years, I got mixed up with the wrong crowd. I battled with drug addiction, sexual promiscuity and wild rebellion. I landed myself in lock-up at a mental hospital for two months in the 9th grade. It was actually a very life altering experience and when I was released I was able to put a lot of the past behind me. I got away from drugs. I got away from the “bad crowd”….but still I was extremely unhappy. I went to a school where there were a few different groups of people and I didn’t really belong with any of them. There were the rich, preppy kids. This was a majority of the school. I wasn’t rich, I didn’t have the name brand clothes, the latest styles, the BMW. I had ShopKo clothes in whatever styles they provided and at one point my Mom quit buying me clothes as incentive to lose weight. I was probably a size 12 or so at the time. I was given a 1973 Pinto and totaled it in the first couple of weeks of ownership. So, I was on my own to buy the next vehicle and I worked (another thing the rich kids didn’t do) and earned $500 and bought an old Ford Galaxy. Our school had two parking areas. The main one in front of the school and a lot much further away that was referred to as the Freak Lot. This is where all the “Hessians” parked. “Hessian” was what we called Stoners or metal heads. I had to park in the Freak Lot, because there was no way my vehicle would be allowed in the main lot. I tried to hang with the Hessians, but I didn’t really fit. I was somehow a little too sweet or nice for them. Then there was the ROTC nerds. These were the misfits that attended Reserve Officers Training Corps instead of taking P.E. Some were really into it…others, like me…took it so we didn’t have to take PE. I did kind of well there, but for all the wrong reasons. The guys paid attention to me. Most of the girls (not all…but most) were pretty awkward and unattractive. I wasn’t really awkward and at that time in my life I was pretty attractive. So, the guys in ROTC fawned over me. That was nice, but it got old and I didn’t feel like I had real friends there. I tried many things to try and fit. I tried to do the Flag Corp. I tried music and choir. I tried ROTC. I tried Creative Writing. I tried a language club. I tried many things, but I was a square peg trying to fit in a round hole.

I got depressed. I didn’t want to do anything. I didn’t want anything to do with High School. I didn’t care about my school work. I didn’t care about the people. I barely skated through, failing classes each year and barely passing the rest. Later in my High School years, I found a place where I fit, but it wasn’t at school. Every Friday and Saturday night I went to the Rocky Horror Picture Show and for those two nights, I belonged somewhere. I had friends that I enjoyed being with and they enjoyed being with me. It didn’t change my disdain for High School though. I hated that place and I hated most of the people within the walls of that place. My senior year, I did much of the same. I didn’t really try. I didn’t really care. I didn’t get senior pictures. I didn’t really hang out with my peers. I didn’t study and I didn’t do homework. In the end, I failed my English class…a requirement for graduation.

So, I didn’t graduate with my class. Consequently, I was kicked out of my Mom’s house. I didn’t have a graduation party. No ceremony. I was mad and I was certain that it was all Ms. Kelly’s fault. If I recall, more than half of her students failed and consequently, I was sure she was a lousy teacher. It wasn’t my fault. It was hers.

Even though I failed, I was determined to get my diploma. So, I attended summer school to retake the class that I failed. When my Mom kicked me out, I went to live with my Dad at his farm home about 60 miles away from my summer school class. I made it every day though and I passed with flying colors. I think I got a “B”, which was pretty darn good for me. This solidified my view that Ms. Kelly was the worst teacher EVER and it was ALL her fault. At the end of the summer I got my diploma…still no graduation ceremony, no cap and gown, no party…but I got that piece of paper and I did it in spite of the circumstances and I felt pretty good.

Now, I’m 35 years old. I’ve got to tell you, it wasn’t Ms. Kelly’s fault. I could have passed that class. I passed the summer school class that covered the same material out of sheer determination. I wanted to prove people (my Mom) wrong. I wanted to prove that I wasn’t a failure. I wouldn’t have failed Ms. Kelly’s class if I had that same determination; if I put forth the same amount of effort. A few years after High School I heard that Ms. Kelly was on some kind of probation and had to increase her ratio of passing student vs. failing student or she could lose her job. I don’t know if that rumor was true, but at the time I thought, “See, it wasn’t me. It was ALL her fault.”

I don’t know what happened and I hope she didn’t lose her job. I know from my own reflection, I didn’t try. I didn’t read the books I was supposed to read. I didn’t do the homework that I was supposed to do. If I had to guess, I’d say that a lot of Seniors didn’t want to take the time out of their social schedules to read the books they were supposed to read and do the homework they were supposed to do. She SHOULD NOT pass students that don’t deserve it. She SHOULD fail them and maybe, just maybe, it will give them the determination and drive to succeed and like me they will be able to look back and say, “I wasn’t stupid. I wasn’t a failure. I could have done it the whole time. I just chose not to.”

Thank you, Ms. Kelly. Please accept my utmost apologies for ever putting this blame on you.

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4 Comments

  1. Cris said,

    June 4, 2008 at 11:17 am

    Great post Jen. I’m sure she’d be very proud of the amazing mother and professional woman that you’ve become.

  2. guest said,

    June 4, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    Awesome post!

  3. Dinah McCreedie said,

    June 5, 2008 at 11:28 am

    Oh Jen:???:
    What does a mom say to a post like that. How I wish I could turn back the clock and understand you better. How I wish I could have responded more from a place of loving mercy and kindness, rather than a selfish position of what you were doing to me.

    Of course your post was actually very little about me but the parts that are there, stand out, glaringly, at least to me, and I so wish that I could have been a different kind of a mom. But, I know that back then, I couldn’t. As inadequate and actually hurtful as my parenting was, it was woefully, the best I could do at the time.

    But the good news is…..You have turned out so wonderful. Your parenting is awesome and you are an example to so many, on how to love your family and REALLY take care of them. In spite of the now-obvious hurdles you had to overcome, back then, here you are….beautiful, wise and most importantly…..RESPONSIBLE. How proud I am of your transparency and your fearless owning up to your own responsibilities. Isn’t that the best we can do, own up and then forge on, “forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead” (Phil 3:13).

    May I strain toward what is ahead by using your example and being responsible, taking ownership of my failings, and being the best mom of a 35 year old mom I can be and the best grandmother I can be. May the Lord help me with this, as I certainly need Him for this task.

    Jeni, You are so cool!

    Your proud Mom,

    Dinah McCreedie

    PS – For the record, I thought Ms. Kelly was a true ho-bag at the time, as well. 👿

  4. Michele said,

    June 6, 2008 at 7:37 am

    🙂 I was crying when I read your mom’s reply….UNTIL I got down to the bottom and read the ho-bag comment!!! 😆


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