I have had ADD all my life. I was the spacey dreaming girl in class who liked to read when she was supposed to be doing math and wander over to my cubby to look at whatever little doodad I had stashed in there. I got beat up on the playground and had my precious items broken and stolen. It didn’t help that I was the weird girl who only spoke English in my K-2nd grade classes. I spent most of my afternoons in the nurses office or the principal’s office (I realize now that the afternoon tummyaches I got daily were from drinking milk at lunchtime).
I changed schools in 3rd grade (not because we moved, but because I was hating life… in 2nd grade…) and things got a little bit better. I tested into the gifted program and realized I was different in a good way. My teacher was pretty impatient still, but the next year was loads better.
Mrs. Wycoff was the first teacher to work with my Extra Special Abilities… I still had to sit at my own desk in the back of the class so I wouldn’t disrupt my classmates with my incessant chatter, but I actually learned stuff! I remember what books we read (my favorite that year was Island of the Blue Dolphins and it inspired many pretend play sessions for my brothers and I). We had to build a mission, and my parents took me to visit a bunch so I could choose which one I liked best.
The next two years I was in a “beta” program of sorts where 5th and 6th graders switched classes like Jr. High and High Schoolers do (like this school in Florida). The program really played to my ADD. I was capable of focusing on a subject for an hour and the physical change of classrooms really helped me refocus. I had one of the best English teachers I could have, named Mrs. Werner. She read The Hobbit to us and I can still here here Gollum voice in my head when I read it. She encouraged my love for reading. We had silent sustained reading periods and they were my favorite part of the day!
I also had a pretty awesome Math teacher named Mr. Stark. He would break up boring math lessons with tossing peanut M&M’s at us for answering multiplication and division questions. We also watched a show called MathNet (a spoof on Dragnet) and listened to The Cars during tests.
Mrs. Johnnie was my homeroom teacher and science teacher. She let me implement a classroom society (that I had learned about from my Aunt Polly who is a teacher) in 6th grade and my classmates loved it! If I ever teach elementary school I will be using that technique to teach about how society and government works!
I found a love for theater in Junior High when we put on a production of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (to date my favorite play) and had an entire unit on Shakespeare. I also extensively studied the Holocaust and even had the opportunity to interview a survivor, Alicia Appleman Jurman, as my History Day project. My science teacher in 8th grade was one of my friend’s moms and she gave us a safe place to hang out during lunch (her daughter and I were never the most popular girls) and welcomed in any other girls who weren’t fitting in well. The whole group of us (minus one) decided to go to high school together and join color guard.
High school was still a challenge academically (mostly because I was bored inside the classroom), but socially I was doing great. I had lots of friends, loads of dates (I started being a bit more selective after freshman year when I upset the wrong guy and got some nasty rumors spread about me) and something to do every weekend (football games, dances, field shows, and parades with the band). I got involved with theater Sophomore year and make a lot of friends with the Juniors and Seniors. I dated a Senior who had a car and went to Winter Formal. I was also in a class that ran the on-site preschool and realized I had a deep love for teaching. School work was not my focus, but I flitted by with mostly C’s, just enough to be able to stay in band and drama. My state testing (STAR in California) scores were in the 90th percentile. Second or third in my class.
Junior year is when the academic troubles flared. I had an English teacher who pretty much disgusted me. Everyone knew he was a pervy old man. He kept the cute girls in the front of the classroom, and never wrote any of them up for dress code (he kept his classroom sweltering so we wouldn’t want to wear sweatshirts inside and most of us wore spaghetti strap cami’s underneath). I kept my sweater on no matter how hot it was in there. He was also super chauvinistic. I remember getting into debates about The Great Gatsby and refusing to write my paper on it because of the views my teacher expressed. He failed me and my mom pulled me from the play I was in. I started ditching his class and hanging out in the school’s computer lab.
Senior year had some major changes at our school. A prominent alum started Whittier Academy of the Performing Arts as a weekend and after school program. I dropped band that year and joined choir (we had a new teacher named Mrs. Abrenica who really taught me to use my voice correctly) and the new dance program they started (with Ms. Harlan who owned and operated Allegria dance studio in Whittier). I stayed in theater, but did not take the class. Second semester I auditioned for the Academy. I was in the theater and vocal divisions. My school work went down the drain. I ditched classes left and right, only going to choir and dance some days. I was also taking an English class at night at the local Junior College on the days I didn’t have Academy rehearsal to make up for the previous year. I have no idea how I graduated. Maybe it was that they counted all of my Academy hours as school time. For all of my extracurriculars that semester I was probably at school an extra 15 to 20 hours a week. I somehow managed to pass my Senior Project with the help of Mr. Clark. I gained a lot of time management skills that year (man what happened to them) and I also learned Microsoft Office with Mr. Pock (now Mr. Brown).
College is a whole other animal. I went to 5 different schools (Rio Hondo, Fullerton, Pasadena Junior Colleges, then Azusa Pacific University, and then to American River Junior College) in 6 year and changed my major 4 times (Music Education, Social Work, K-12 Education, Psychology) and still haven’t finished a degree. Maybe one day it will happen.