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Making A Difference
“Get out of my face with that!” screamed Rita, Arnold’s mom.
“What did I have you for? You never cook, clean and now you’re getting straight F’s? Your just like your father, you’ll never amount to anything,” she mocked.
Arnold hated his life. His mother was always high or drunk; she brought home a different guy every week. But most importantly, she never once told Arnold she loved him. The only thing she did was smoke and drink and tell Arnold that he was good for nothing. At one point, he started to believe her.
Rita threw the report card on the floor and screamed “Go clean the house since you never do your homework, or read!”
Arnold knelt down and picked up his report card. Ignoring his mother’s harsh words on his way out, he went outside of his broken down apartment and sat outside. At times he didn’t feel like he had the will to go on. He had no one to believe in him, and he didn’t think school was for him. He began to cry out of frustration and anger.
“Hello Arnold,” said a sweet familiar voice.
He looked up, surprised to see his teacher, Mrs. Clark “Is something wrong?” she asked. “How’s your mother?” Arnold looked at her and shook his head.
“She doin’ fine,” he said.
“Mrs. Clark looked down and corrected him, “You mean she’s doing fine.” “Arnold, anytime you need to talk I’m here for you. Just let me know at school,” she offered feeling that something was wrong.
“Yea, whatever thanks,” said Arnold rudely. He wiped his eyes, and got up from the floor and went inside. Not even saying goodbye to Mrs. Clark.
The next day, Arnold was late to school as usual because he had to walk. His mom didn’t own a car, and he had no money for the bus. He walked into class 30minutes late and plopped down into his seat.
“I’m glad you were able to make it to school this morning” said Mrs. Clark.
“I’m not,” retorted Arnold. The whole class turned around and looked at him as if to say, why does she even bother, with the likes of you.
Mrs. Clark ignored his rude comment and continued teaching. “Ok, I need a volunteer to come up to the board and solve this problem.”
Arnold looked up at the equation and mumbled “Even in 5th grade math problems seem to be impossible to understand.”
“Did you say something Arnold?” asked Mrs. Clark
“No,” replied Arnold, praying she doesn’t make him do the problem.
“Ok, well since you never volunteer, I’m choosing you to come up and solve the problem on the board” she said.
Arnold sucked his teeth, and lazily arose from his seat. He went to the board and read the problem out loud, “Tom took a ser…series of test a….and sco….scored” he read hesitantly “81, 43, 54, 85, 87, and 90. WH…what is the mean sc…score of tom’s test gra…grade?”
“He can’t even read!”mocked Alyssa, one of the students in Arnold’s class. The whole class began to laugh.
“That’s enough!” screamed Mrs. Clark losing her patience.
Arnold, discouraged, dropped the marker and went back to his seat. He laid his head down on the desk. The class remained quiet after Mrs. Clark’s loud outburst.
“Now,” said Mrs. Clark “I’m pretty sure none of you are experts at this, so you shouldn’t be making fun of anyone.” “To find the mean or average, you have to add up all the numbers, and then you divide the sum by the amount of numbers given.” “For example, 81 43 54 85 87 90=440. And 440 divided by 6 is 73.3 with a repeat sign over the .3. Everyone will have a sheet of homework that needs to be completed before you get into class tomorrow.”
Mrs. Clark grabbed a pile of papers from her desk, and passed it out to the class. After that, Mrs. Clark walked over to Arnold and whispered “You can stay after class with me to do your reading and math homework.”
“Ok,” replied Arnold embarrassed.
The day went by very slowly, but school was almost over. The last 5minutes of class the students were free to talk amongst themselves. Arnold, like usual had no one to talk to. He arose from his seat and approached Mrs. Clark, he said “Um…Mrs. Clark, I’m sorry about how I was acting, and I’m going to try as hard as I can after school today to do my work.”
Mrs. Clark looked at Arnold in total shock, “I really appreciate that, and if it helps, I know you can do it” she said.
Arnold had longed for those words to come from her mother’s mouth. Instead they came from the one person that would never have given up on him. And he grew quit fond of her.
“Ring” sounded the dismissal bell. Students grabbed their belongings and rushed toward the door. When everyone had gone out of the room Arnold felt a little more relaxed.
“Ok, go on and pick a book from the rack, we can read it together” said Mrs. Clark. Arnold walked over to the book rack and grabbed the smallest book he saw. He brought it over to his seat and sat down. Mrs. Clark came and sat beside him.
“Alright, now open the book and read the first page” she said.
Arnold hesitantly opened the book to the first page. He began to read, “And…..Andy raced”
“That word says rapidly” corrected Mrs. Clark.
Arnold closed the book, “Why do I need to do this anyway, it’s just a waste of time!” he said
“Arnold, what happens when you see letters and numbers on a page?” “Do they make sense?” asked Mrs. Clark
“No!, I hate reading I look at the words and there all mixed up they make no sense, and I don’t need to read, it’s not important, and I know I’m stupid and useless so what’s the point?” he yelled angrily.
“Look at me!” urged Mrs. Clark. “You are not stupid and you aren’t useless, what I think might be the problem is that you have dyslexia” replied Mrs. Clark. “And who told you that you were stupid?” asked Mrs. Clark.
Arnold looked down and replied “My mother,” his voice getting calmer.
Mrs. Clark, sympathizing for Arnold said “You aren’t stupid or useless, Arnold I believe in you, don’t let no one and I mean no one tell you that your worthless because you’re not!”
Arnold looked up at his teacher and began to cry. He longed for a hug but couldn’t find the words to ask her. Mrs. Clark opened her arms and Arnold with no hesitation hugged her.
“From now on, I’ll stay every day after school with you and you’ll be the brightest star in my class” urged Mrs. Clark.
Arnold remembering what Mrs. Clark had said asked “What’s dyslexia?”
“Dyslexia is a disability in reading where word’s jumble up and you can’t read the word because the words are mixed up together” she replied.
“Oh,” replied Arnold scared.
“But don’t worry, I’ll do as much as I can to help” she said
From that day on for the next couple months Arnold stayed everyday afterschool with Mrs. Clark to work on his reading and math skills. He began to love reading and enjoyed the challenges given to him by doing math problems.
One day, Arnold walked home from a long tiring day of school; he arrived home and opened the door. He passed by his mother on the couch.
“Arnold is that you?” screamed Rita.
“Yea’ it’s me” he replied, not wanting to deal with her mocking him today.
“Arnold, you’re the thing that went wrong in my life, just like your daddy, never did nothing’, never amounted to anything, and a waste of my time” she said drunk.
Arnold looked at her and suddenly heard the words that Mrs. Clark said to him. He replied, “I’m not useless, and believe me or not I will do something with my life and it’ll be thanks to the one person that treated me like a human being and you know what mom? She believed in me, when you couldn’t. But it’s ok because I know I’ll prove you wrong.”
Rita looked at her son in total shock of the words that came from his mouth. She had nothing else to say, she got up from the couch and went into the bathroom, slamming the door as she went in.
Arnold went into his room feeling a sense of courage. He couldn’t believe what he had said to his mother but he was proud of himself for doing it.
The next day at school was Friday, and Friday was test day. Arnold wasn’t scared like usual and looked forward to seeing his score. He rushed to class and took his seat. Everyone looked at him because for the past months he hasn’t been rude or late and he was actually trying.
Mrs. Clark passed out the test to everyone and said “You may begin.”
Arnold read threw the passages in less than 20min and answered the questions. He then, grabbed his math sheet and completed it. He was the first person to finish and he handed all his papers to Mrs. Clark. She began to grade them and after 10min of grading she had finished. She looked at Arnold and winked at him. She got up from her seat and went over to him to show him his test scores. Arnold looked at the markings on his paper in disbelief. He had scored a perfect 100% on both reading and math.
Mrs. Clark looked at him and said, “I knew you could do it”
Arnold looked at her and smiled “Thank you Mrs. Clark”
“You’re welcome” she replied
“Um…Mrs. Clark, I’m having a little trouble in science, do you think you can help me?” asked Arnold
“I’d love too, and always remember, I believe in you” said Mrs. Clark smiling.