I Never Received a Gold Star for my Writing in School

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Girl Power is definitely trending and I'm all for it. I actually remember when girl power was trending last...I think I was in 4th grade or something and had a Power Puff Girls folder that had "girl power" plastered across the front? I know for a fact that I had a girl power diary! Not that I wrote in it consistently...if you would have seen that, you would wonder how I ever manage to post 4 times a week for LMents of Style!

Anyway, the girl power of the late 90's is a little different from the girl power of today. I feel like today's looks a little chicer? Or maybe it just looks normal because it doesn't have Lisa Frank color explosions everywhere. Regardless, I like it. While I like girl power and all, this post is going to be about finding your own power, regardless of if you are a girl; however, I'm a girl, so go girl power! (now I have The Cheetah Girls "Girl Power" song stuck in my head...I am REALLY dating myself...)

Okay but really, this post is about following your passions. So, whoever you are, girl or boy, always remember what makes you happy and what doesn't feel like work. I think one of my most important takeaways (okay, I have a lot of important takeaways) from life in general is that school is great, but it's not for everyone and it for sure doesn't define your success. Oh and just because you studied something in school, you don't necessarily have to pursue that. (much to your parents' dismay) That may sound weird coming from someone who didn't struggle with school (I had to work for it for sure, but I just mention this, because I know people are different and it isn't super easy for everyone, even when they work really hard) and graduated from college, andddd is doing exactly what her degree is for. I am seriously abnormal, lol. But anyway, what about my side job that is really more like a full time job, called blogging?

Let's rewind some years before I make my point...I'll be 26 in August, so if you know anything about Texas schooling (don't get me wrong, it's great!), then you also know everything about standardized testing. To put it straight, I took the TAAS test in 3rd grade. That was the original name of the standardized tests for public schools all across Texas. (I think? don't quote me!) TAAS stood for the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills. The first year I took the TAAS, was also the last year I took the TAAS. It was then changed to TAKS, then it was TEKS, and then now I think it is called STAAR testing? I mean crazy, right? They make a huge deal about it. In elementary school they had themes for the week, to help us out. I remember the theme for 3rd grade was baseball and how we needed to hit a home run for TAAS or something like that...Mrs. Morris (my 3rd grade teacher), if you're reading this, thanks for all that you did for us!

Anyway (getting to my point;) ), there are different sections added on each year and/or they are done a little differently each time. 4th grade was kind of a big deal, because they added on a writing portion (ooooh). The math and reading sections were scored more like an SAT, so they were more like 1400/1400 or something like that...different portions count for different amounts and so on. The writing portion was scored between 1-4...1 being the worst and 4 being the best.

Now, I was a GT kid, but I sucked at standardized testing. My GPA was always better than what my test scores showed. For example, I was going to test out of some of my English classes in college, and even signed up and took the IB (International Baccalaureate, similar to AP) English test; however, I found out a week before my test that it didn't matter what mark I received on the test, because my SAT English scores were too low for me to even think about getting credit, even though I graduated in the top 5% of my class of almost 600. I digress...

Back to the writing portion of the the TAKS test. The teachers made a HUGE deal about this section. I can see why. I mean it affects going to the next grade (I don't think it did initially, but when I got in high school I believe it did?), as well as the "mark" the school gets. If you don't have an overall passing score it can be bad for funding, awards, etc that the school would have received. They wanted all students to do well, but they really expected it of the EH kids (enriched honors...like AP for younger students)  They stated that every student who got a 4 on their writing portion would get a star with their name on it in the stairwell. It doesn't sound like a lot, but it was made a huge deal. Yep, you guessed it. Most of my classmates got that shiny star up in the hallway. I did not. I think I made a 3? Which again, is not a bad score...just average. Don't worry, I'm not one of those people who thinks that everyone deserves a trophy or no one should get a trophy person, but it obviously made an impact on me. It made me think I wasn't a good writer, but HERE YOU ARE READING ALL OF MY BABBLING. (ladies and gentlemen, my point!!)  There were a few teachers who made me feel like i could write, but then that kind of ended with my senior (high school) IB English teacher. I'm pretty sure she didn't like me and noooo not because of the grades she gave me...just her overall demeanor. I will say that it didn't help that she consistently gave me C's. I was not a C student, but I'm pretty sure I ended up with a C in her class or a very low B. 

I did take English in college (English I, II, Brit Lit, and Spanish Lit), but at that point I already thought I wasn't that great at writing. My other point of this whole thing is that just because you weren't "good at it" in school, doesn't mean you can't/shouldn't pursue it in life! Again, here I am essentially writing you a novel and I didn't get my 4th grade TAKS Writing Star. (still LOLing) If you happen to visit Kimberlin Academy, you will not find my name on the wall. BUT here I am doing what makes me happy. Do what makes you happy. Writing for y'all makes me happy.

I'll end with a quote from my high school Algebra II Teacher, Mr. Hattaway. He was about to pass back a quiz that a lot of us didn't do too hot on; however, before he did, he wrote this on the chalk board: "Quiz grade does not equal self worth". Amen to that! Standardized test scores do not equal self worth! The numbers on the scale do not equal self worth! I mean you could really fill in that phrase with anything that you struggle with that does not actually define your self worth. So don't worry, and get it girl! (and boy;) )

So shout-out to all of my amazing teachers who made an impact on my life! I didn't write this to bash teachers during standardized testing (I can only imagine how hard it is!), but really just to speak my thoughts on standardized testing. I do realize that some sort of testing has to be done, just wondering if it is being done the correct way. It can crush someone when they are quite literally trying their hardest and are still struggling to pass. (side note...who actually grades writing portions of standardized tests...I always image some old lady with a bunch of cats, in her one bedroom apartment, grading them. Maybe she couldn't read mine because it was too dark? LOL)

It was recently Teacher Appreciation Week, so I thought I'd list out all of the teachers who made an impact on my life, though I'm sure I'll miss some, but here are the main ones who come to mind!

Mrs. Newcomb, my first grade teacher at Spring Creek Elementary (The nicest lady! I remember her bringing us presents that went through the whole alphabet. On C day she brought cabbage, but on D day, she brought donuts!!)

Ms. McCullough, my second grade teacher at Kimberlin Academy (She helped me transition into changing schools.  I also loved doing spelling test with shaving cream on my desk!)

Mrs. Morris, my 3rd grade homeroom teacher at Kimberlin Academy ( I always liked reading, but I loved reading in her class!)

Mrs. Gartrell, my PE teacher at Kimberlin Academy (I remember playing hockey when the Stars won the Stanley Cup! She also took my mom, sister, and me to Sam Moon for the first time!)

Mrs. Dressel, my 3rd grade teacher at Kimberlin Academy (I remember her patient demeanor and love of cats! I think she ended up changing grades, so I was able to have her twice...again in 5th grade)

Mrs. Reed, my 4th grade homeroom teacher at Kimberlin Academy (We had the cool homeroom class, because we got lockers!!)

Ms. Slider, my 5th grade science teacher at Kimberlin Academy (May she rest in peace. She tragically died well before her time. I loved her class - she made me enjoy science)

Mrs. Song, my 5th grade English teacher at Kimberlin Academy (I was in her classroom when 9/11 occurred. I remember how gracefully she handled it)

Mrs. Oberg, my 5th grade history teacher at Kimberlin Academy (I remember the 5th grade opera and how fun it was!)

Mrs. Owen, my enriched music teacher at Kimberlin Academy (She took mercy on me. When I tried out I sang A Bicycle Built for Two and Count your Blessings from White Christmas with NO ACCOMPANIMENT. Luckily she knew them on the piano and played them for me.)

Mrs. Nelson, my 6th grade English teacher at Austin Academy ( Mostly I remember how I had class with Ryan Hall and worked on multiple projects that year. He died my 9th grade year of high school that from a bacteria complication. I also remember reading Shakespeare for the first time and loving it. It was a great class.)

Mr. Carter, my 7th grade science teacher at Austin Academy (He made me love science, which was probably the last time I liked it! We dissected frogs in his class. He was a really good teacher.)

Mr. Karbowski, my 7th and 8th grade Spanish teacher at Austin Academy (He made me like learning the culture and language of Spanish speakers. It was a breath of fresh air from when we had to watch Perro Pepe in elementary school. He also loooooves Gloria Estefan!)

Mrs. McComb, my choir director at Austin Academy (I loved choir. It was never a chore for me, but a class to get away from everything else. Mrs. McComb was a great director.)

Ms. Jernigan, my theater teacher at Austin Academy (She introduced me to Audrey Hepburn, which is one of my main muses. I'm forever grateful for that!)

Coach Roth, my PE teacher at Austin Academy (He took pity on me. Everyone in 6th grade had to take PE. 7th and 8th grade most people did athletics, but I took Zero Hour PE instead. He was always a joy to be around.)

Ms. Driscoll, my 9th grade Geometry teacher at Garland High School (Math was never my strongest suit, but I learned a lot from her class. I had it during lunch, which is always really hard. I can't imagine teaching a split lunch class like this!! Kids come in hungry and can't focus, then they come back sleepy and full.) 

Ms. Smith, my 9th grade English teacher at Garland High School (Most of all, she made me laugh. I hated it at the time, but we read Gulliver's Travels in her class, which is such a classic. I'm thankful for that.)

Ms. Gallo, my 10th grade English teacher at Garland High School (Ms. Gallo made me feel like I could write. I enjoyed writing for her, even when it took FOREVER. We did a huge research paper, but for me it was fun. I did mine on Like Water for Chocolate.)

Ms. T, my drill team director at Garland High School (Ms. T...I feel like I don't have adequate words to say how she impacted my life. I was with her every morning from 6 to 9, then after school some days as well. Dancing in drill team has so many qualities that help you become a better person and T lady was (and still is!) awesome.)

Mrs. Baez, my JV drill team director and assistant varsity director at Garland High School (She was one of the first people I met from Garland High School, as I was an officer for JV Drill Team my freshman year. She had a sweet spirit, yet was able to get things done at the same time, which is a quality I wish I had.) 

Mr. Franklin, my freshman choir director at Garland High School (Having an all girls choir isn't always fun ((looove having the guys' voices as well!)), but he made it fun.)

Ms. Wilson, my Acappella choir director at Garland High School (Some of my favorite high school memories were with Ms. Wilson. I always loved choir, even when we had after school practices. It was never like work to me.)

Ms. Sifford, my government and economics teacher at Garland High School (Ms. Sifford was an amazing person and teacher. She didn't just follow the curriculum. She helped you apply it to current situations, not just what was in the textbooks.)

Mr. Hattaway, my Algebra II teacher at Garland High School (Again, no great at math, but his quote about "quiz grade does not equal self worth" has always stuck with me. I know I struggled a little bit and had challenging projects, but that's not what I remember.

Mrs. Zembower, my 11th grade English teacher at Garland High School (It sounds weird, but this is where I think I really learned grammar? Before then I actually used conjugating Spanish verbs as a way to help me understand conjugating English words. I don't know...it just wasn't something that I was really taught, because we all spoke English.)

Mr. Bryant, my accounting professor at Baylor University (I love accounting and I attribute that to him! I still remember asking for another problem like the one he worked in class and he liked the idea and ended up assigning a problem to the class as homework...oops! We also had a white elephant party at his house and I brought a tacky picture frame with a picture of him cut out of his family photo, blown up and super pixely. It was HILARIOUS.)

Dr. Brunson, my fashion professor at Baylor University ( Dr. B taught me my first year at Baylor. I remember crying in her office over a break-up. She was super personable and an all around great person.)

Dr. Cloud, my textiles professor at Baylor University (Dr. C made me like textiles. I didn't have her for Textiles 1, but I did have her for Textiles 2, which I managed to get an A in!)

Dr. Divita, my fashion professor at Baylor University (Dr. D...the professor I am most close to and the one who helped shape me the most, while in college. I actually met her before I attended Baylor, while I was touring Baylor. I remember that she asked me a question and I said "I don't know." Her response was "This is college! You can't say I don't know!" I think it scared me at the time (I was a jr in high school), but hey! It all worked out and I came back!)

And a shout out to my teacher friends who are affecting littles lives for the better!

Ms. Davis

Ms. Giddens

Mrs. Plummer

So you're probably thinking what the heck does a pepto-bismol pink wall and a cutesie set have anything to do with standardized testing and girl power? I think dressing can be a form expressing yourself, which can boost your moral and confidence. You do you!

XOXO, y'all.

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