Mrs. Hicks (5th grade resource teacher)
Mrs. Raegan (8th grade science teacher)
Marisol (Lieani’s Grandmother)
Bogad (College advisor)
Ms. A (high school English Teacher)
In the 5th grade it was apart of our morning routine to write in our journals for 20 minutes a day. This was the first time I had been exposed to creative writing and told that what I had to say mattered. There was a boy in my class room from Nigeria who had a resource teacher assigned to him that would be in the classroom with him at all times. Although I do not remember how, I was the student in the classroom assigned to helping Mrs. Hicks with the boy. Mrs. Hicks would give instructions, and I would model how to solve a math problem or how to construct a sentence with all the proper elements. Although Mrs. Hicks was in the classroom specifically to help him, she would help Mr. Decamp read and grade our journals as well.
When working outside of the classroom Mrs. Hicks would ask me questions about my writing and the things I write about. Soon those conversations became more about the way I was dealing with my world outside of the classroom and less about the academic aspect.
This was the first time someone took the time to care about my struggles and me. I felt that even as a fifth grader my world was too complicated or complex for my peers to understand or relate to me, I felt ashamed and embarrassed. Mrs. Hicks helped me to understand that the things happening to me weren’t my fault and although I was just a fifth grader, there were things I could do about it.
Mrs. Hick’s interest in my writing and personal life was the start of my self-advocacy. That is when I began to use my voice and understand its power. It was also the first time my opinion, thoughts, and feeling were validated. Mrs. Hicks not only helped me write my narrative in a literal sense, but also for the rest of my life. She provoked a loud voice in me that is still heard today.