Scene 8: If I Can Do It, You Can Too
The next Monday was the first day of school after break. Karen took her seat in the social studies classroom and carefully placed her report and display on the desk in front of her.
The teacher said, “Welcome back to school, kids! I hope you all had a wonderful spring break, and I’m eager to see your reports. You can take turns reading them aloud to the class, and then we’ll pin your displays on the bulletin board. Who wants to go first?’“
Karen remembered how ashamed she used to be when a teacher asked for a volunteer. She had always been afraid of letting anyone see her work. But that had been then, and this was now.
“Me!” she said. “I want to go first.”
“Karen, that’s a surprise. But come on up to the front and go ahead.”
She carried her report and display to the front of the room and stood with her back to the greenboard. She rested the display part on the chalk tray and leaned it so everyone could see the map of Connecticut. Then she read the report out loud.
The teacher looked at her with his mouth open. He frowned and said, “Could I see that report, please?”
Karen felt something was wrong. His look said he was suspicious of her. He scanned through the report.
“It’s your handwriting, all right. How did you find all the information?”
She got it. He thought somebody else, like Mama, had done the report. He thought she had cheated. She took a deep breath. This was no time to lose her temper. She opened the bag and took out her outline.
“See, I made an outline that followed your written instructions so I wouldn’t leave anything out. Then I looked up each piece of information and wrote down where I found it. Like here.” She pointed. “Page seventy-two of History of the New England Colonies. Then I started with a clean piece of paper and wrote what I found out, but in my own words. After I finished writing, I traced the map and flag. It’s my new study skills. I’m learning to plan ahead and do things a step at a time instead of just jumping in and then getting all disorganized.
The teacher smiled, and she thought she caught the gleam of a tear in one of his eyes. “Karen, this is really good.” His voice sounded husky, like he was feeling emotional. “You don’t know what it means to a teacher and see a student take a giant step like this. You’re always talking about how you want to go to college. If you keep up like this, nothing can stop you from achieving your dreams.”
Karen said, “Thank you,” but no one could hear her words. The rest of the class was cheering and clapping their hands too loudly. They were cheering for her. They were clapping for her.
When they stopped, she quietly said to them, “If I can do it, you can do it too,” and returned to her seat.
Original text ©2022 by Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.