A Good Teacher Story

When Shelby was in the 4th grade I got her 2nd progress report of the year and it said that she wasn’t reading at grade level.  I freaked out because I didn’t understand how I hadn’t been notified before.  I looked back at the first progress report, which her dad had signed and sent back, and it sure ’nuff stated that she wasn’t at reading level.  Her teacher, Mrs. Zarnoweic, had an after school reading program and asked if she could come every day. Um…Yes.  So every day she stayed after school about 45 minutes with other struggling students and read.  Her problem wasn’t actually the reading, it was comprehending what she had read and being able to tell it back according to the standardized tests they had to give.

The following year, her 5th grade teacher told me that she should interview to get into this middle school with a harder curriculum.  She was surprised that I was surprised, but I relayed the story that the previous year she wasn’t even at grade level.  Her teacher told me that she was excelling and that she should test for this program.  She was one of two that the teacher recommended and she got in.

Probably a month ago she told me that she was Literacy Student of the Year for her class.  I was happy for her, but didn’t fully realize what she was talking about.  I thought she was LSotY for HER class, like her literacy class, not her class, like the whole 8th grade.  I thought that her teacher, who she loves and said reminds her of me because she’s sarcastic, gave her the award for her class and then someone else for another class, etc.  You can see my skeptical thinking, right?

So there we were at the graduation ceremony, which they refused to call a “graduation” and insisted on calling it a “continuation” because they want students to continue to 9th grade (get it?).  Anyway, they were over halfway done calling people up and they got to Shelby.  They said “Literacy Student of the Year, Shelby D” (they said her full name, obviously).  I said “huh?” they didn’t announce that on anyone else.  I thought there would have been a lot of them. We can’t just pick one student as the best anymore, can we?  Well, I guess we can, because they did.  Her friend got up and she was Math Student of the Year.  Then another boy got up and he was Something Else (I can’t remember) Student of the Year and that was it.  In a society where we don’t want anyone to feel inferior to anyone else, I was really surprised that they’re still able to give awards like that, but I was so proud of her.

More importantly, I want to go give Mrs. Zarnoweic a huge hug for recognizing that Shelby had a problem in the 4th grade, and for helping her through it.  Unfortunately, most of the teachers that make the news are the ones that are in trouble for something, but there are truly good teachers out there.



  1. carikelley

    wow! going from needing help to LSofY! That’s quite an accomplishment! congrats, Shelby!

  2. carikelley

    btw, does she always hyphenate “thank-you”? Did Mrs. Z teach her that? 🙂

  3. meandmom

    That is so wonderful! Yeah Shelby! I think we need to get back to a little of the not everyone can be the best mentality. It’s so much more realistic….and I feel better knowing that my mediocre efforts are the norm, not some deficiency on my part 😉

    My 2 sisters and my mom are all teachers. They work with the special ed kids and often help them achieve levels a grade or 2 (sometimes 3) than where they started. Truly, no better feeling on earth for them.

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