Saturday, December 17, 2011


Barring any failing grades next semester, I can now call myself a Grinnell college student. 

-Insert giggling and shrieking and giddiness here-

And this is the essay (the one my English teacher hated), that I think played a rather large role in my acceptance.

Mr. B opened my eyes to my own potential and taught me that there’s more to learning than getting a perfect score. His words are the little voice in the back of my mind telling me that I can do it and to never give up.

I hated writing with a passion throughout elementary school. The process of the five-step paragraph seemed a special way to torture me and the cursive script slowed me to a snail’s pace. I had so much to say, but I couldn't figure out a way to get it out on the page fast enough and in a way that would satisfy the strict requirements for the number of sentences and complex sentences, transitional words, and a color-coded final product.

The first assignment Mr. B gave our fifth-grade class was to compare a fan to a pencil. He gave us a sheet of paper and time, as much or as little as we needed, and off we went. The first few times I sat at my desk, paralyzed by my fear of being anything less than perfect. I couldn’t fathom the idea of writing without strict boundaries being set for me. Mr. B acknowledged my fear and then went right on smashing down all the boundaries by letting us throw paint, go outside, listen to music, or just sit in silence to find inspiration.

Mr. B knew that I had been taught to write within the lines, and here I was, scribbling furiously on the current assignment, without any lines to guide me. While I sat hunched over my desk, Mr. B walked around the room. He was ready with a joke if I was stuck or with a smile if I wanted him to give me the right answer, but he never interrupted me while the words were flowing.

The balance he struck between letting me figure it out for myself and giving me enough help so I wouldn't feel lost and abandoned was impressive. I had room to grow; to grow as far and as fast as I could, without the loss of my support system. If anything, I learned that sometimes the best kind of support a person can receive is to know that someone is there, but to have that person step back and let you take on the world by yourself.

During the nine months of fifth grade, I learned to do more than just write words; I learned to craft them into a final product that had significance and could clearly communicate my thoughts and ideas to the world. Mr. B gave me freedom to write, to grow, and to make mistakes by obliterating the idea that everything I wrote had to be perfect. After he had given me all the tools I needed to tear down the barriers around my mind, he stepped back as I discovered the amazing new world outside of perfection.

1 comment:

michelle said...

Congratulations! I'm so excited for you.
Grinnell is a great school