People are surprised when I tell them I was a very shy kid. If I got called on to answer a question at school, I blushed and wouldn’t (couldn’t) answer, even if I knew the answer. Most times though, I didn’t. I had a really hard time with comprehension. Really hard. Teachers quickly learned to pass over me to avoid me the stress. Mostly I would turn red and stare at the desk and hope they would just move on to someone else.
Reading was extra tough. I could read the words and I was a really good speller, but I couldn’t understand what I was reading. Talk about frustrating. My thoughts and what I was reading just didn’t line up. I always wanted to be a good student. I really did. But because of my lack of reading comprehension I felt pretty dumb a lot of the time. I also didn’t know how to talk to others either. Goodness, I was shy. I do equate it to how hard it was for me to comprehend reading, and to focus when people spoke to me. Absolutely.
My heart kind of hurts for the little girl I was. She didn’t know that people learn at different rates, that it’s OK and normal, and that it didn’t mean there was something wrong with her. How could she?
And I think I would have been shy and scared forever if it weren’t for Mr. Hackett.
I didn’t really start to come out of my shell until I had Mr. Hackett for Health class in grade 5. He was a great teacher. Very sensitive to his students needs and kindhearted. Very shy himself. Soft spoken. Very aware.
From him I got my first good grades. My grades were never ever great, but I got my first earned gold star from him. He didn’t give them out freely, you see. You had to earn them. And that gold star gave me such a sense of pride and a glimmer of confidence. It¹s so amazing to remember this.
I also remember being assigned to do extracurricular SRA assignments at my mom and teacher’s request to help me with my comprehension. It was in health class that I really saw that it was working. Mr. Hackett also noticed my improvement and congratulated me on it. He was as proud as my parents were of how far I had come. What an amazing feeling it was to get his acknowledgment. His ability to understand the small things, and to know exactly what to do during those times was just exceptional. And that pushed me to work even harder.
I can’t thank him enough for that kindness. A true gem, Mr. Hackett. He was so genuine, and real, and in touch with his students. And his thinking was so outside the box. That man followed his heart and gut, no doubt.
Thanks, Mr. Hackett for helping shape me into who I am now. An independent, hard-working girl who knows her value. You rock.