The Healing Horse, Ch. 21, Scene 5: Alone in a Classroom

image of flashcards
After the torment of hearing Mrs. Pinzetti disparage her and plot against her friend, Tammy, Karen goes to an empty classroom for a tutorial. Unfortunately, the school cannot afford to provide a tutor, so she studies alone. As always, she makes the best of a bad situation instead of giving in to it. Then the evil Mrs. P appears…
(Image by drcw on Flickr)

Scene 5: Alone in a Classroom

After lunch, her classroom teacher excused Kitten for her daily tutorial. This had begun after her last evaluation, nearly a year before. Karen had complained that she needed more advanced instruction than the rest of her class, and that the disruptive behavior of some of her classmates made concentration hard for her. The eval team had recommended that the school hire a tutor to work with Karen in a separate classroom. 

Unfortunately, the school lacked funding to hire a tutor. Instead, the principal assigned one of the teachers to work one on one with Kitten, but five minutes into the first session, the teacher had left and never returned. Karen had wondered what she had done to drive the teacher away, but she had been so determined to learn that she had persevered for two hours alone every day, trying to study on her own. She had not told anyone because she thought it was her fault the teacher had not come back.

In the empty classroom, she sat at a desk with a stack of vocabulary cards to study for the weekly spelling test. Her teacher wanted her to look at the cards and then spell and pronounce the words aloud, but Kitten had discovered that she learned better if she traced her finger over each word, and then said it aloud. She learned kinesthetically.

In her perception, the words appeared garbled, jumbled, distorted, and mixed up. She worked through the list, one word at a time. With each word, first, she could not sound it out, and then she could barely say it, but she kept her commitment to herself and to her learning. On the third try, she could usually say the word. She traced each word with her finger, and then she could remember the spelling. Repeating the word aloud as she traced it, she mastered the pronunciation. Her teachers had taught her to sound out and repeat the words, but her intuition alone had taught her to trace them. She got the spelling right almost one hundred percent of the time.

Desperate with fear that she could not learn the words, she traced them and tried to tie a knot between shape and meaning. Despair threatened to undermine her, but she held steady. Regardless of her emotional state, she mastered all the words in the first half hour. Then she took a second stack of cards from her bag. She had made these cards herself by writing in black crayon on white three-by-five index cards. On the back of each card, she had written a brief definition in pencil. These were words from her reading, words she had needed a dictionary to understand. 

What is this going to teach me? This is nothing I couldn’t do at home. I need a teacher in here teaching me. I’m twelve years old. I should be starting college in six years, but I’m nowhere near ready.

A tap on the glass panel of the door brought her out of her reverie. Mrs. Pinzetti waved at her and opened the door. As always, her appearance was perfect. Her beautiful dark gray woolen pants went well with a medium gray three-quarter-sleeve sweater top, and her golden hoop earrings sparkled against her black hair. Karen thought, Appearances can deceive. If I had not heard what she said to Mrs. DeLuca, I would still think she was perfect.

“Karen, Sugar,” she said. “Since this is clinic and eval week, we need to juggle your schedule so you don’t miss PT. Walk this way with me, please.”

Kitten forced a smile as she put the cards away and followed Mrs. Pinzetti out of the room. 

Original text ©2022 by Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved. 

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