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A Person Who Did Make A Difference This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   The beginning of freshmen year was scary for me. It was a chance for new beginnings. As schedules were compared, I learned my English teacher was infamous for flunking students, especially boys. This didn't worry me, it just made me anxious. I figured I had two things going for me, one, English was my best subject and two,I wasn't a boy.

When I had class I saw this extremely skinny woman, who apparently was the teacher. She had black hair and deep-set eyes. I was cautious of everything I said. As she started talking, I was put at ease. Maybe it was her smile or the way she gesticulated with her hands, but somehow, I knew this wasn't your typical English class. She started putting us in alphabetical seating order and explaining her policies. The policy which stands out in my mind was that we were to fold our papers lengthwise like books. She asked how many of us looked at the front cover of a book when we first started to read it. Puzzled, we realized we didn't. She said this was the reason for folding our papers, this way she wouldn't be prejudiced in grading, which disproved her reputation for me. Also, this process of explaining her reasons set a precedent for the rest of the school year.

She was unique in every way. Her clothing wasn't stylish, but fit her personality. Her ideas were set; she would argue them, but they obviously had withstood many arguments. She walked quickly wherever she went and her eyes widened and twinkled when she enjoyed the subject she discussed or felt it was important. Her ideas about prejudice and standing up for what you believe interested me the most. When we complained about something like lunch being too short, she would advise us to discuss it with the principal or have people sign a petition so the issue would be noticed. She did a unit on prejudice, which helped me stand up to, or at least question, racial remarks made by my friends and family.

In the middle of the year one of the science teachers died of a heart attack. It affected every student in the school. Some teachers continued with their classes as if nothing had happened, while others gave their students studies, but my English teacher decided to confront the issue. She read a children's story which dealt with death. I don't even remember who died in the story, but I do remember it was moving. She explained how some people dealt with grief and how she felt as a friend of the science teacher. This prompted a discussion of deaths people in the class had experienced. I was a bit depressed when I left the class, but relieved the issue had at last been brought out into the open. Later in the year my dog died. He was eight years old and a best friend to me and I took it as I would the death of anyone I cared about. It was then I realized the meaning of the class discussion.

At the end of the year I had studied grammar, Shakespeare, and short stories, but these were just subjects. Realizing one person can make a difference, I learned that people should be judged by their inner self, and ignoring issues won't make them go away. That is what life should be.n


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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