To the Teacher Who Said I was Too Stupid To Learn
You'd think that fitting in, getting good grades and facing the occasional ridicule from your peers would be the biggest challenges in elementary school. For one, it wasn't that simple.
After several years of putting the pieces of herself back together, Kylee Alonzo wrote a letter to her 5th-grade teacher. She depicts some of the horrors she faced every day and the mistreatment that set the bar for the rest of the school.
How I deeply regret not being able to talk to you in person. It has been a goal of mine for a very long time and always in my imaginings, it is always in person. Unfortunately, I no longer live anywhere near Idaho so this will have to be done this way.
I was a meek child with a multitude of challenges and an unlimited imagination. I wouldn't be surprised if you don't recall who I am. I was in your class the second year of the school being open. I sat at the back of your class, timid, and desperate to just fit in, if even the tiniest bit.
Your job as my teacher was a simple one. To guide, mold and nurture my potential. It was your job to make sure that I moved on from your class a better person than I was when I got to you. It was your job to help and to teach me to the best of your abilities. As any good teacher is expected to do.
I'd like to share with you some of the things that have stuck with me over the years since I was in your class. I remember being physically ill every morning because there was nothing I dreaded more than walking into your classroom. I remember telling you that I couldn't read the red marker on the whiteboard, that it was just a blur and coming to school the next day and the only color at all you used was red. I remember sitting alone at recess and being told by one of my peers that she couldn't play with me because she didn't want an F for the day. When I prodded her further she explained that you'd told my class that if they did then they'd indeed receive an F for that day. Because of you, I had no friends. The only time the other children talked to me was to taunt, tease and make fun of me. You're cruelty fed theirs.
I remember sitting at my desk the day after 'Girls Night Out' and, per my mother's suggestion, I'd tucked an extra pair of panties into my desk in the instance that I might have need of them if puberty unexpectedly struck. To make a short story even shorter, you found them and as you displayed them for everyone to see. You held them in the air until I told you the obvious, that they were my panties. Then, because I'd not yet died from the humiliation, you demanded me to tell you why they were in my desk. You wouldn't allow me to tell you privately, no, I was made to tell you my reasoning so the whole class could hear.
I remember how you would time my bathroom breaks and if it took me longer than 5 minutes then you'd pause the lesson and, in front of everyone, make me explain what took me so long.
You wanted my father to build a cubical around my desk and when my parents refused to block me off from the rest of the class you moved my desk to face the wall. I was taunted by my peers because essentially I was no longer their classmate. I was the unwanted child that had to sit at the back of the class facing the wall. An inconvenience. You knew what you'd done was wrong, when my mother came into the classroom and saw what you'd done with my desk, you asked if she were there to hit you and asked her not to make you cry. My mother regrets that she didn't hit you for all the hell you put me through every day.
I remember how I could never do anything right. My pen rolled across my desk one day and you spent, what felt like forever, yelling at me for the disruption.
I remember lining up to receive our grades and every single time you'd announce, "Look who got another F," and hand me my grade. You made me feel two inches tall every time. You made a habit of making me feel worthless, incompetent and a waste.
Every day I went home in tears and every morning I'd wake sick to my stomach, worried about what matter of humiliation you'd put me through. I could go on and on about the cruelty you put me through but if I did then you'd be reading for days. You spent a year of my life torturing me instead of teaching me, helping me to grow, and when you failed ( not I ) you wanted to hold me back another year and put me through everything again.
Yes, you were not the only one there that was free and giving with their belief that I was worthless, Mrs. Pratt was also a big one and the other teachers quickly joined followed.
By the time I made it to the 6th grade I was suicidal, you had broken me. I believed everything you told me. That I truly was, "Too stupid to learn." I didn't even bother to try for the first half of 6th grade because I didn't see the point, I was worthless after all. My 6th-grade teacher finally sat down with me and did what all great teachers do, and talked to me. She found out what was wrong and then she helped me. To this day, she uses me as an example for all struggling students. Because I changed from a straight F student to a straight A student. She helped me to see that the problem wasn't with me after all, it never was.
You once said that I'd never amount to anything, that I'd never go to college. If only you knew then how wrong you'd be today, I bet you would have tried a little harder.
Not only am I in college but in the first 2 weeks of being enrolled my professor nominated me to become a member of the National Society of Leadership and Success. I was 1 of two people they chose to nominate and accept that year. I will graduate from college and I will do it with honors. I am soon to have a book published and I am working with a company who wants, so very badly, my invention which is so innovative that it is going to change things, for women especially.
I married the love of my life and have two small boys who are so incredibly smart that they leave their peers far in the dust. There will be many great things that those boys will accomplish someday. Both of them are homeschooled by me.
Funny thing for me was that I had to go to college to discover that not only was I smart but I am very smart. It was a shame that you never made the small effort to work with me, who knows how much more I could have achieved instead of trying to put myself back together because of you. My mind has always worked differently and that used to be something I was ashamed of. I can't tell you how many extra hours I put into trying to be normal, to "fit in the box", but I am so grateful that I don't. Because my out of the box thinking is going to impact the world very soon.
You said I'd never amount to anything. I am a great mom who would do anything for her children and tries her hardest to be the mom they deserve. I am a loving wife who was lucky enough to find her other half so early in life and have that person support and believe in me no matter what. I am a college student, I study my butt off and every day brings me closer to that college degree. I want my children to know that it doesn't matter who holds you down, dreams are always achievable. I am a writer and even long after I am dead and gone my words will linger on forever. I am an inventor and because of my idea, countless people will know who I am.
When you read about me someday I want you to remember that I am succeeding in life despite you. I became everything you said I wouldn't. I amount a hell of a lot more than just 'anything.'
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She proves that not only are there long term damages done when someone is bullied but that you can also mend them and build over them, having a life where you can truly expand on your own possibilities and chasing your dreams.
Bullying is an out of control epidemic, children do it to one another, adults to it to children and people of all ages do it online. It is an epidemic that needs to be stomped out so that we can start raising children who aren't held back by the insecurities drilled into them.
Kylee Alonzo wanted people to know, "If you're being bullied right now, and you're at that dark place where you are barely holding it together and you feel completely, just know that you're not. I got past this and so much more. I didn't stop getting bullied until a year after I graduated from high school. I nearly gave up on myself countless times but I survived it. My hometown, Coeur d'Alene, ID, had to start a cyberbullying/crimes division because of another bullying situation." She continued to say, "Don't give up, and if for no other reason - survive just to piss off the people who try to make you miserable. Show them you're stronger than they are, because only the truly weak bully the gentle."