What type of student were you in school?
Not Just a Band Geek
Growing up, school was my life. I loved school and strived to be the best I could be no matter the cost. I often spent my days learning everything that I could learn. After school would let out, I would walk home, do my chores and start on my homework. Unfortunately, due to my slow writing speed, poor penmanship, and dyslexia, it would often take me all evening to finish my school work. I often fell asleep trying to finish, and I got up extra early to finish what I had not completed the next morning. I would often ask the teachers to allow me to stay inside during recess to finish what I had not completed the night before. I struggled intensely trying to make the A's that were the results of all of my hard work. In the third grade, I received my first and only C throughout my school career. I had broken my arm and was not able to complete the required pull ups to pass my P.E. class. The teacher told my mother that my doctor's note meant that I did no work throughout the six weeks, and she felt that her giving me a passing grade was more than generous for the laps I walked around the school while everyone else ran. The following six weeks, my arm was still weak from misuse, and I received only a B in the P.E. class. These were my only non-A grades I would see on my report card through my completion of high school.
In sixth grade, I found my passion, band. I loved playing the clarinet, but did not do as well as I would have liked due to my fine motor skill difficulties. The band director noticed that I had great difficulty keeping up with my peers, so I was moved to bass clarinet. I excelled and was eventually capable of picking up my speed. I competed in UIL solos and ensembles, where I received medals at each competition. I earned a spot in the UIL District Band, Regional Band, and 1st Alternate for State Band. I played the clarinet, bass clarinet, alto clarinet, and contrabass clarinet. I had always loved music, and the feeling I received from playing the music was monumental as I allowed the music to fill my soul.
Although I was a big band geek, I was geeky in other areas as well. I excelled at math and loved working with numbers through algebra, geometry, and trigonometry. I must confess, I do math for fun and break out my college trigonometry book when I am bored. Being able to work so well with numbers, I was able to put together computer programs quickly and with very little work. I was able to figure out efficient short cuts that cut down the time I put into programs. I excelled in both subjects and was named Most Outstanding Geometry, Trigonometry, Computer, and Band Student over the years in high school, as well as making Who's Who In America.
I also enjoyed writing and won many writing contests and scholarships for both my poetry and prose. I was the editor of the year book, wrote stories for the school paper, and photographer for both yearbook and the paper. I was quite surprised, however, when I competed for and won the spot drum major, I was told by the school board that they did not want me to take the spot.
Having a sister with mental illness, our family had been run through the wringer. We were judged on the actions of her, which was fair to neither us, nor her. The school board stated that I was not a suitable representative for the school. This was not the first and would not be the last time that I was judged on the actions of my sibling.
My freshman year of high school, I was excited that I would be in high school. I went to my second class of the day, English. As I was walking into the classroom with my friends, the teacher put her arm across the door blocking my entry into the classroom. With a snotty inflection in her voice, she asked, "You're Cassie McGhee's sister?"
"Yes, I'm Pam." I put out my hand for a handshake.
The teacher snarled her nose and did not except my respectful offer. "I will not have you acting up in class the way your sister did last year. Will I?"
With tears in my eyes, I answered, "No Ma'am. I'm not like my sister." I was both ashamed and embarrassed to the point that I had difficulty making eye contact with the teacher all four years of high school. I was actually relieved to be moving in the middle of my senior year because I was able to have a fresh start.
My senior year was the year that everything fell apart. My mother and father had separated. My brother moved away to live with my father, and my sister had moved out of the home the spring before. Towards the end of November, my mother had a nervous breakdown due to our stressful lives. I was moved away to live with my father, and my mother joined us once my parents reconciled the following April. In the new town, I did not have to fight the image that people had of my family due to my sister's bipolar disorder. I excelled in my new school, and raised my grades to where I graduated number 8 out of 400 students. I had friends that had no idea of my family's past and my past life did not haunt me. I did not feel the need to drown myself in school and activities. However, I did remain in band and competed in an ensemble competition where I won one more medal. I also remained in Yearbook and was made co-editor of the yearbook due to my ability to quickly learn the computer program. The editor was glad to split the load, as she was overwhelmed that year.
When I attended university, I carried the study skills I had refined over the years with me. I worked in the library, tutored other students in college algebra, trigonometry, and calculus, and I was the co-founder of The Writers' Guild, our creative writing club. I earned Dean's and President's lists each semester as well as Alpha Chi. I graduated Magna Cum Laude. I had the grade point average for Suma Cum Laude; but since I was a transfer student, I was not awarded the title.
Today, I miss being a student more than anything. I think that is why I received my degree in my multiple majors, Secondary Education, English, and Special Education. I just wish the job market was not as tight as it is. Regardless of my education, I have not been able to find adequate employment. But, that is another story.