Keep Hope Alive…

Dear Reader:

Two weeks ago I bravely grabbed my lawn cutting tools and went to work on the Confederate Rose…toppling down branches that extended well above the garage/potting shed.

I decided to keep the one stem that had bloomed at the last moment a few weeks ago…and two other stems that did have a few healthy large leaves on them…the rest of this massive tree-size bush was gone. (prayers for its return healthier next year)

A few days later to my shock…one of the two remaining 20 foot stems had a white bloom on it with another bud next to it…it bloomed and disappeared but then yesterday…they were both back…one white and one pink. They were alive and still telling their story… the legend of the Confederate soldier and his contribution to this amazing magnificent bush/tree…its name…the Confederate Rose. Hope lives on!

Since yesterday was Monday I got my next StoryWorth question which was: What was one of the hardest things about growing up? How did you get through it?

Let me share a little excerpt that I wrote for StoryWorth yesterday so you can see how I basically answered the question.

I think the hardest period growing up for me….was making the transition from an introvert to an extrovert with a renewed love for learning. The transition took place between fourth and fifth grades…both due to two different teachers with two different personalities and outlooks on life.

My fourth grade teacher killed what little self-esteem I still had…especially since I had big “bucky beaver” teeth that prevented me from smiling…just lip grinching throughout the year. Because my baby teeth took forever to fall out…(back then one couldn’t get braces until they did)…the late elementary grades were particularly trying.

Mrs. Persons, my fourth grade teacher, was a large overbearing woman, (we students all thought she had another person inside of her…thus the (s) to her name…probably some unfortunate student she ate)  who had no business being in the classroom…since it was obvious to all of us victim students she hated being there and treated us like pesky mosquitoes one just kept swatting.

She even tried to take my love of history and geography away by telling me one day that there were no lands left to explore or frontiers to discover. How awful was that? What a terrible teacher she was…when I think of her narrow-mindedness definition and  approach to learning …I still shudder in dread of how many other students’ love for learning was killed that year and sadly many more after that year.

Today I know I am an explorer living in the frontier (unknown) of cancer…recognizing each year new possibilities of surviving obstacles discovered and conquered by those who have gone before me. I owe my life to them.

The pandemic, viruses, the common cold, coronavirus, space, environmental issues…. are all new frontiers being confronted explored, and even conquered by the newest explorers today in science, medicine, space, and environmental geographers for change.

Fortunately, for me,  hope was kept alive…fifth grade arrived, I still had ‘bucky beaver’ teeth but now, by a God Wink, I also had Mrs. Williams…who would be Professor Higgins to my Eliza Dolittle.

She would help me discover new frontiers of confidence, leadership, humor, risk-taking, and acceptance of my physical stage in life…as my personal metamorphosis began occurring simultaneously.

(Still “Bucky Beaver”…but look…by fifth grade I had accepted my teeth and smiled big for the camera…Mrs. Williams had done a good job  teaching me that the important things about a person are inside…not out.)

 

 

 

I would leave fifth grade confident, out-going, accepted by my peers, and recognized as a leader in creativity. The path to my teaching career had been shown to me…I would be a teacher and a writer …a creator of ideas.

By high school graduation…the braces had come and gone…my first photo without braces…little “Bucky Beaver Becky” had turned outside into what was always inside her….a happy soul just waiting to embrace adventure. And that I did.

Having barely survived the valley of depression and self-loathing in fourth grade… to a leadership role in the fifth grade lead me to recognize and appreciate which role models I wanted to emulate and which styles of teaching I wanted to eliminate.

Even though I felt like a loser in the fourth grade…I learned an important lesson by the following year…“One never really loses…either we win…or we learn.” These are the role models we want our own children to emulate…integrity and honesty.

So until tomorrow….

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

 

About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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1 Response to Keep Hope Alive…

  1. It was my fifth and sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Hawkins who inspired me to want to teach. She took us to Tennessee State University, the only black school I knew. There on the quad looking at the professors in their robes and the respect they received and the knowledge they represented, I knew I wanted to teach college someday. I must have been just 10. For nearly twenty years, teaching brought me such joy, and I miss it. Yes, one teacher can change a life, for the better or worse.

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