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KaitlynKennedy1

KaitlynKennedy
MissEaker
UWRT1103018
23September2014

MyJourney

Overthelongdraggingrideofmyeducation,Ihadanumberofbarricadeswhirledatme
onehundredmilesandhour.Whoknewahandfulofoverpassedmaterialoveryearscouldhave
suchalargeimpactamongasingleyoungchild.Thepublicschoolsystemhasatwotrack
systemmeaningtheyteachforoneoftworeasons.Numberone,forchildrentoreceivethe
educationthatisrequirednumbertwo,forthemtoworktowardobtaininganevenlonger,yet
morerewardingtrackofattendingcollege.Thestudentsstrivingforcollegearegivena
treacherousworkload,thrownintosports,clubs,SATbootcamps,andeverythingelsethatgoes
alongwiththewhirlwindofpreparingtoapplytocollege.Studentsonthetrackcompletingthe
levelofschoolrequiredaresomewhatsurpassedintheeducationsystems.Teachersaren'tgiving
theircarefulattentionanddegreeofteachingtheycouldtothesestudents.Theyaresimplyput
onatracktogetbybytheskinoftheirteeth.HavingbeenonbothsidesIhavebecomeabetter,
moreappreciativestudent.

AsIwaswalkingintomyfirstdayofkindergartenclutchingtomyhotpinkprincessbackpackto
helpcalmmynerves,mymomheldmyhandandassuredmeIwasgoingtohaveagreatyear.

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NextthingIknewIwaslookinguptothebenevolentvoicethatspokemynameasIenteredthe
classroom.Shewasaplumpladywithasweetfacethatmatchedherdemeanor.Webonded
quickly.Shewasanationallycertifiedteacher,makinghernotonlystronginherabilityto
connecttoyoungchildren,butalsoinherabilitytoteach.Throughouttheyear,hergentle
encouragementgavemetheconfidencetobesuccessfulatanythingakindergartnercouldever
imaginebeing.Astheyearprogressed,learningthealphabet,howtospellyourwholename,
learningyouraddress,andhowtocountbecamenothingwhencamedowntolearningtoread.
Mrs.Blantontookasoftapproachwhenitcametouswantingtoread,shewantedustoenjoyit.
Herkindnudgesreallyhelpedme,andIwasthefirstpersoninmyclasstoread.Idevelopeda
passionthatmademefeelcaptivatedineverythingIread.Iwantedtoreadmoreandmoreevery
chanceIcould.ThefeelingitgavemetoknowthatIwasabletodowhatIlovedwhilegetting
smartermademyinsidestingle.Thatsuccessfulstarttomylongroadofeducationmadethe
worldlookpromising.Thatwasuntilsecondgrade.
Inthelatermonthsofsummer,ourcountyalwayssentoutourschoolschedules.Coming
homefromdaycampeveryday,IaskedmymomtodropmeoffatthemailboxsoIcouldcheck
forthenerverackingenvelopethatwould,inmymind,determinemyyear.Myhandsshaking
everytimemypetitehandbeganreachingfortheeversotallmailbox.Todaywastheday.Ifelt
thescorchingsunbakingmyfaceasIremovedmyarmfromthedeepdarkholeofmyfate.AsI
sortedthroughthemailtossingeachpieceasideuntilIspottedtheforeverawaitedschedule.My
fingerscarefullyslidthemselvesacrossthetightlysealedline.Thiswasit,themomentoftruth
didIgettheteacherIhadbeenhopingforsincethebeginningofthesummer?Realitystruck,
andmybodypulledthedreadedpieceofpaperoutofthefragileenvelope.Afeelingofreliefran

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uponmeandIwasstunnedwithpleasure,IgottheteacherIhadbeendreamingofallsummer
long.Iwasfullofjoyandexcitement.Iracedtothehousetosharethegreatnewswithmy
parents.Littledidweknowwewereinforasurprise.
*Afewshortweekslateritwastimeforschooltobegin.Mynerveshadsetintoalevel
hadneverexperiencedbefore.Walkingdownthehallway,Iwasfullofthejitterbugs.WhenIgot
there,Iwasgreetedbyanunexpectedtalldarkmanwithwolflikefacialhairandabeergut.He
soonexplainedthatMrs.Dentonwasonmaternityleaveuntilfurthernotice.Myheartsank.All
ofmydreamsfortheschoolyearwentupinsmokesjustlikethat.Theyearprogressedina
positivedirection,wehadlotsoffunandgottoknowournewteacherimmediately.Hewasa
niceoldermanwhowasverypersonable.Helovedhavingfunwithus.Theyearendedandwe
hadn'tseentheteacherweweresupposedtoseeallyear.Overalltheyearwasasuccesswhenit
cametofun.Itturnsoutwhilewewerehavingfunplayingboardgames,playingonthe
playground,andcraftingalloftheotherkidswereprogressingintheirreading,writing,and
math.Thisbecameapparentwhenthenextyearbegan.Beingthefirstencounterwithnotbeing
taughttheappropriatematerialIwasabletocatchupeasilybecausemyparentshadmeplacedin
atutoringprogramtocatchmeup,andallwasgood.
Withthepreviousyearslessthanstellarexperiencemyparentswereverycarefuland
monitoredwhatwewerelearningcomparedtootherthirdgradeclasses.Theoverwhelming
feelingofpressuretokeepupwiththeskillsandlessonsofotherkidsmyagewasweighedon
mymindandmyshoulders.Onedayinthemiddleoftheyearmyteachergatheredusallintoa
circleinthecenteroftheclassroomtotellusherbignews.Assoonasweallwereseatedshe
proceededtotellusshewaspregnant.Myheartsankandafeelingofhopelessnessovercameme.

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IcouldfeelmyIQdroppingfasterthantheraindropsfallingdownfromthesky.Shethen
introducedustoayoungpetitelady,averageheight,andblondehair.Myteacherexplainedtous
thatshewasnewlyoutofcollegeandwouldbefillinginforherfortherestoftheyear.My
parentswereragingbecausetheyhadtheirreservationsaboutwhatwashappeninginthe
classroomwithouttheteacherthere,butwiththeteacherabsentfortheremainderoftheyear,
theyweremoreupsetthanIhadeverseenthem.Thisabsencewasmoredetrimentalthanthe
yearbefore.Theadjustmenttookplaceshortlyafter,andthelackofexperiencebegantopeek
through.AttheendoftheyearwehadanEndOfGrade(EOGs)testandourprogress,orlack
thereof,wasseenclearasday.IwasextremelyanxiouswhenIbegantakingmytestduetothe
lackofconfidenceIhadinmysubstituteteacher.
*MyoriginalteacherreturnedtonotifyusofwhatwehadmadeonourEOGs.Asshe
calledeveryoneoutintothehallwayindividuallymyheartbegantoracemoreandmoreasshe
gotclosertomyname.WhenshefinallycalledmeintothehallwayIwasshakingwithfearof
failure.
Youscoredathreeandfour,shetoldme.

*Notknowingwhatthesesimplenumbersforsuchacomplextestsignified,Ibeganto

askquestions.ShekindlytoldmethatIscoredathreeoutoffourinreading,andafouroutof
fourinmath.Iracedbackintheclassroomwithexcitementeagertosharethetwonumberswith
myclassmatesandseehowwelltheyhaddone.Whenexchangingscoreswithoneanotherit
seemedasthoughmostpeoplemadetwosandthreesmakingmeveryconfidentinwhatIhad
accomplished.WhenmymompickedmeupfromafterschoolthatdayIwasoverjoyedtotell
herhowIddoneonthebigtest.Mymomwasveryproudofme,butwantedtoinvestigatea

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littlebitmore.Askingaroundtotheotherthirdgradeparentsshediscoveredthatmyclasshad
scoredsignificantlylowerthanalloftheotherclasses,againmyparentswereconcerned.They
placedmeinprogramsatSylvanLearningCenterforthesummertocatchmeupinreadingand
writingbecausemyscoresreflectedthatmyabilitieswerehigherinmaththaninreading.
Anotheryearofbeingletdownbyateacher.
TwoyearsinarowitseemedlikeIhadbeenaffectedbyabsenteeteachers.AtthispointI
wasmovingontointermediateschoolandmyparentsfeltasthoughthiswouldbeanew
beginningwithteacherswhostayedforthewholeyear,andhopefullybettersubstitutesifthey
werenecessary.MybestfriendsmotherwasafourthgradeteacherattheschoolIwouldbe
progressingto,somyparentstooktheopportunitytorequestherasmyteacherknowingthatshe
hadbeenthereforalmostfifteenyearsandalsoknowingherwritingabilitiesasateacher.The
comfortofhavingastableteacherthatIwasfamiliarwithwasallthecomfortintheworldatthat
moment.Thefeelingthatthelightattheendofthetunnelhadfinallyrevealeditselfmademe
thatmuchmorereadytostarttheyear,andIknewitwasgoingtobewonderful.Schoolstarted
andsoonIwassurroundedbyallofmyfriendsagain.Mrs.Leeknewexactlyhowtoenrichher
studentsliteratureknowledge.Wereadalotofkidfriendlynewspapers,answeringquestionsas
wewentalong.ShetookthetimetositandreadNancyDrewbookstouseveryday,andmade
mefallinlovewiththeintriguingfeelingofneedingtoturnthepageasfastaspossibletofind
outwhathappenednextthattheNancyDrewbooksgaveme.Notonlydidherreadinghelpme
blossomandloveitagain,butthewayshereadandtoldastorybloomedmyvocabularyof
describingthingsinmywriting.Shewasaphenomenalwritingteacher,andshowedusknew
waystoprogresseverysingleday.BytheendoftheyearIwasmorethancaughtupinmy

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readingandwriting,Iwasaheadoftheotherclasseswhenwetookourfourthgradewriting
exam.Mygrowththatyearwastremendous.MyparentsandIbothwererelieved,amazed,and
extremelyappreciative.
Withallgoodcomessomebad.Thefourthgradewasadream.Thelearning,flourishing,
andexcellingmademyconfidenceasastudentrisetoagaintowhereitoncewas,butalso
restoredmyparentsfaithintheeducationsystem.Littledidweknowthenextyearwould
restoremetomypreviousconfidencelevel,notthegoodway.Myfifthgradeteacherwasalittle
morethanoverthetop.Shewasdisorganizedanddidn'tlistentoanyone.Weplayedonthe
playgroundmuchlongerthanweshouldhave,spentmoretimelisteningtothebeachboys,and
eatinghotdogsthanwedidanythingelse.BythenIwasalittlemorerelaxedthanIoncewas
whenitcametoschoolwork.Iwasn'tasworriedaboutwhatwashappeningacademicallysoI
neverfelttheneedtotellmyparentsIwasn'tlearningverymuch.
*Theendoftheyearcameasitdideveryyearandweallknewthatmeantmore
EndOfGradetests.AtthispointIbegantoworry.Fifthgradewasabigyear,theyearbefore
middleschool.AfterthisyearIwaskissinggoodbyetothegoodoledaysinelementaryschool,
andIknewIwasabouttogethithard.Ijusthadtomakeittheirfirst.AfterwetookourEOGs,it
waspartyweekuntilschoolwasoutforthesummerorsoIthought.Weweresittinginclass
onedaysoourteacherscouldhandoutourresultsfromtheEOGs.Myteachercamearound
talkingtoeachstudentabouttheirgradesandasyouweretoldyouwereabletogobackoutside.
AsthishappenedIkeptwaitingformyteachertocomeupandtalktome,butitseemedas
thoughitwasn'tgoingtohappen.EventuallyIwasthelastoneleft.Shecalmlyapproachedme
asshecouldtellatthispointIknewsomethingwaswrong.Shebegantobreakthenewstome,

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Kaitlyn,itlookslikeyoudidntdoverywellonyourreadingEOG,andyouregoingtoneedto
retakeit,shesaidkindly.IthoughtIwasgoingtofaint.Howcouldthishappen?Ihadsucha
fantasticyearlastyear,IthoughtIcaughtup.Mynextthoughtwas,howamIgoingtotellmy
parentsthatIfailedmyEOGandIwouldhavetheretakeit?Howweretheygoingtoreact?
WeretheygoingtobeupsetIdidn'ttellthemIwasn'tlearningmuch?Whenschoolendedthat
dayIwalkedtheslowestIhadeverwalkedtothesmallpatchycornerofthestreetmymom
waitedformeateveryday.Approachingthecarmymomcouldtellsomethingwaswrong.When
IhadeventuallymadeittothecarIopenedthebackseatdoorandslumpedmywayin.Atthis
pointmymomwasfranticlyquestioningmyactions.IknewIhadtotellherwhatIhaddone.
SharingthenewswithherIbegantocry.Ifeltlikeafailure.Youwillbegivenhelpnomatter
what,shesaid.IthendriedmytearsandtriedtogetthesaltytasteoutofmymouthasI
regainedmyconfidence.Myparentscontactedmyfourthgradeteacherasatutortohelpme
prepareforthetest.ItdidnttakeherverylongtoidentifythatIhadntprogressedverymuch
sincethepreviousyear.Mrs.Leehadmereadandcomprehendanarrayofselectionsthatwould
helpmeonthetest.BeforeIknewit,theweekIhadtopreparewasover,anditwastimetoface
mydreadedenemy,theretest.Goingintothetestmypalmsweresweaty,andIbegantoshakeas
Ithoughttomyself,whatifIdontpassthistime?WillIhavetogotosummerschool?WillI
havetorepeatthefifthgrade?Asthesequestionsrushedthroughmyhead,thetestbeganandit
wastimetogetmyselftogether.AfterreadingthefirstselectionIrealizedthattheEOGwasnt
asdifficultasIhadmadeitouttobe.Ifeltrelieftrickledownmyspine,andIbeganto
concentrate.Afterthetest,IwasconfidentthatIunderstoodeachselectionandansweredthe
questionscorrectly.WereceivedthetestscoresthatafternoonnotonlyhadIpassed,Iacedit.

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BythetimeIwasinhighschool,Iseemedtohaveclearedallofthehurdlesandbeonthe
perfecttracktothecollegeofmydreams,ClemsonUniversity.Strivingforthisgoal,Istudied
hard,preparedforentranceexamsbytakingbootcamps,joinedclubs,andtriedtoassume
leadershippositionsineverythingIdid.ItooktheSATforthefirsttimeintheeleventhgrade,
butIwaslessthanthrilledwithmyscores.Ibegantriplingmystudytime,andgettingprivately
tutoredfortheSAT.Nothingwasworkingandmyscoresweregettingprogressivelyworse.
ReviewingPSATsandotherhelpfulSATpreptests,itbecameclearthatthethingsIwasn't
succeedingonthethingsthatwerebothbasic,andeasythatreflecteduponmylackofeducation
inmyearlyschoolyears.Myworstfear,mypastofskimpededucationhadcaughtupwithme.I
wastutoredrepeatedlyinhopesofraisingmyscoreshighenoughtohaveashotofgettinginto
Clemson.
*BeforeIknewitIhadfourSATsandtwoACTsundermybelt,anditwastimetostart
theapplicationIhadlongedforanddreadedatthesametime.Myhandsshookwithanticipation
ofwhatwastocomeasIbeganfillingintheapplicationforClemson.Whenmyapplicationwas
completedIcouldn'tbelieveit,alloftheallnighters,tutoringsessions,SAT/ACTprep,club
activitiesandmeetings,andelectionswerestaringintomybulginggreeneyes.Iclicked
submitandthatwasthat.
*Letthewaitinggamebegin,Isaidtomyself.
Thethoughtofmyapplicationbeingprocessedanddecidedonhauntedmeeveryday,I
hadnightmaresandthebestdreamseverthinkingaboutClemsonitwasaroughride.Months
pasted,stillnoresponse.FebruaryapproachedandonedayIjustknewitwastheday.Driving
homefromschoolitwasallIcouldthinkabout,theconstantbackandforththoughts,Itotally

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gotinandTheresnowayIgotin.IknewthatifIhadbeenaccepted,alargeorangeenvelope
wouldbeawaitingme,andifIdidn'tgetin,therewouldbeasmallwhiteone.Therewasonly
onewaytofindoutactuallycheckingthemail.AssoonasIpulleduptothemailboxIknewthis
wasit.Igotout,mykneesshakingasifIwasawashingmachineontheheavydutycycle.I
reachedinthemailboxandwithdrewitscontent,nooversizedorangeenvelope.AtthispointI
feltasthoughmykneesweregoingtobuckleandIwouldbecatchingmyselffallinganysecond.
Ilocatedthesmallwhiteenvelopewithinthestackofmailinmyhandsandtoreitopen.AsI
beganreading,aweightwasliftedfrommyshoulders.Ididn'tgetin,andIsurprisinglyfelt
amazing.IknewthatIhadbeengivenasignofwhereIshouldgotoschool.
*ItwasdecidedthatUniversityofNorthCarolinaatCharlottewasforme,andIcanfeel
ImexactlywhereImsupposedtobe.Throughallofmyhardshipswhenitcametomy
education,mySATstruggles,andmystressesitallworkedoutthewayitwassupposedtoall
along.Thejourneyoflifenestlesyouinthearmsofyourtruefate,andtakesyouexactlywhere
you'resupposedtobe.