I Think I Can, I Think I Can, I Think I Can…

Are you all familiar with the story ‘The Little Engine that Could”? That is my story. I’ve had people (mainly teachers…ha!) my entire life that said things like…

“She could do so much better, if she applied herself.” (1st grade teacher)
“She’s pretty average.” (4th grade teacher)
“You can’t get better than a ”C’ from me, no matter what.” (9th grade history teacher)
“You really aren’t too smart in math, are you?” (11th grade Algebra II teacher)
“There’s no way you’ll get into a major college.” (high school guidance counselor-used to be a teacher)

I’m here to tell you that words HURT. They hurt bad, especially when they are from people that are supposed to lift you up and try to help you reach your potential.

Thank GOD for my parents. There was NEVER a day in my life when my parents didn’t tell me that there was nothing in the world I couldn’t do. If I wanted to be a doctor, I could. If I wanted to be a writer, I could. If I wanted to bag groceries, I could. I COULD DO ANYTHING I WANTED.

But, I had to believe in myself. God, that is hard when all of your teachers have told you that you really aren’t a very talented kid.

So, I started college life at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. Now, they have a fabulous reputation. At the time, they were accepting anyone who breathed. You see, I graduated with about a 3.2 GPA which isn’t too bad, but after 3 tries, my college boards (SATs) never broke 900. In the USA, that spells doom for a student trying to get into a higher tier college.

Duquesne took me as an Elementary Education major…there was nothing else I wanted to do there, so that was my choice. OY, I HATED the major…what stupid boring classes…but, I loved Duquesne. I made friends who encouraged me to be brave and try stuff (besides drugs). So, I decided, hey, Duquesne doesn’t have a mascot…so, in secret, I AM GOING TO BE THE MASCOT…the Duquesne Duke. Now people, you need to understand that one thing Duquesne was fantastic at at the time was basketball. They had teams that never lost and annually went to the NCAA or NIT championships. So, one night, I walked out on the court dressed in an oversized tux with my belly stuffed with a pillow, wearing a top hat with all my hair (which was very long at the time) shoved up inside, I wore spatz and had a cane and a monocle….damn, I was a good looking Duke! The audience in the stands went NUTS. The radio broadcasters went NUTS, the team and cheerleaders and band went NUTS…and NOBODY knew it was me. WHAT A RUSH….I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…and I DID. The best day of my life at Duquesne was when my hat inadvertently fell off and my hair tumbled out…people went crazy screaming and the radio announcers were screaming, “The Duke is a Duchess!”

Yep, I CAN. Well, damn, I don’t want to be a regular teacher. They never helped me…I wanted to work with kids, I knew that, and I really wanted to help them. Fate and my BFFL, Judie, led me to Ohio University where I majored in Speech Pathology. And I found out I COULD be a great student and COULD do great things in school. I learned to study and learned to REALLY LOVE LEARNING at Ohio University. It is also where I got my first taste of working with deaf children. OMG…this was it! Again, thank GOD for my parents. They could no more afford for me to go out of state to a college then they could fly to the moon. But my daddy said, if that is what you want, then we will make it happen…and he did. I swore I would never disappoint them or myself….I graduated from OU in 2 years and 1 trimester with a 3.61 GPA and two job offers. I think I can…I think I can…I think I can…and I DID.

People at work thought I was a really good SLP. I knew how to get to the level that the kids needed and was able to be flexible with materials and strategies….it didn’t matter if I was working with a profoundly mentally challenged non verbal adolescent or a gifted 8 year old with a severe lateral lisp. I decided on a master’s degree in Deaf Education at the University of Pittsburgh (they wouldn’t accept me as an undergrad)…and finished that with flying colors. My new employer created a special position for me…an SLP specialist working exclusively with deaf and hard of hearing children. I mentored other SLPs in how to work effectively with children with hearing loss. I won awards for my writing (Curriculum and PR publications) and I was frequently requested for workshops! I think I can…I think I can…I think I can…and I DID.

And one day, I decided that I HAD to get a doctorate. Why? Because I had to prove to myself that I could. Hello Pitt (again)….8 years and two babies later, I walked across the podium in front of 30,000 people (including two incredibly proud parents and a husband that was without a doubt the best thing that ever happened in my life -for real) and got my doctoral hood.

The Little Engine that Could….despite all of those people in my formative years who basically told me I couldn’t….I kept saying to myseld each step of the way….I think I can…I think I can…I think I can…and I DID.

Today, I am proud to say that I AM A TEACHER…I teach others how to teach deaf children…it is my mission to help my students become the best that they can be…I LOVE MY JOB, I LOVE MY STUDENTS and I am still learning to love myself! I think I can…

This blog is in response to Authorblog!


3 Responses to “I Think I Can, I Think I Can, I Think I Can…”

  1. 1 DD
    May 29, 2008 at 2:29 pm

    I know you can,because you never cease to amaze me.

  2. 2 judie
    May 29, 2008 at 10:24 pm

    wooohooo….and I was there to watch the transformation happen. love ya

  3. May 30, 2008 at 1:52 am

    Speaking of being an educator, go look at Cablegirl’s post from yesterday about a blog blast for education. I think you have a lot of constructive things to say on the topic and it’s a perfect opportunity for you to do so.

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