Sunday, June 28, 2009


Zale is one tough little girl. I met her when she was in tenth grade and she scared the crap out of me in the beginning. Then I got to know her, to understand her, to see where she was coming from and where she intended to go. And my fear turned to respect and to love.

You see, Zale entered Packemin HS with deficits in English and in math. Before she even started ninth grade, she attended summer school for English. She did not want to be in that awful ramp up program for underachievers and she did not want to have to take double period English. She successfully completed the program and avoided the class. Zale did end up in a double period math class. Luckily she had a great teacher who was a strong disciplinarian with a soft spot for kids like her. This teacher was able to get Zale through her first two terms of math A successfully.

Zale went from a double period math class to a single period class. She did not have the extra class time she needed and the work was much harder. Zale was determined. The attitude I saw was just her determination to succeed and succeed she did. She successfully completed that year with me and did very well on the regents.

With eleventh grade came Math B, a much, much harder class. Zale ended up with a teacher that was good, but whose heart was not as soft. Although she passed, she did not do as well and she was not happy. Zale was determined to do better. She set her mind on getting transferred into my class and managed to succeed. She did not even mind staying an extra period because that was when the class met. During that semester, I learned that she had failed the Global regents in tenth grade and had to retake it. I heard her repeatedly say "I am not a Black statistic. I am going to pass that test." And, pass it she did.

Twelfth grade brought her to her last math regents. I couldn't do much for her as I wasn't teaching the course and wasn't free when she was. Unfortunately she did not make it in January. But Zale, determined as ever, studied on her own, came in for some tutoring and passed the exam this June. (She also passed college now math.) On Friday, when Zale picks up her diploma, it will have that gold seal on it, the seal that says it is an Advanced Regents Diploma.

High School was not easy for this girl. According to all statistics, the probability of her not making it was high. The deck was stacked against her achieving all she did. This determined little girl beat the odds. I know she will go on to be a huge success. I am glad that I was around to be a part of it. I know if I wasn't there she would have found someone else to help her through.

Congrats Zale! Knowing you has enriched my life.


Chaz said...

Great story and one of the few that make teaching rewarding.

The Seeker said...

Congrats to her indeed!