Previously I wrote in my article successful college dropout about how school and I don’t get along very well. There was one school, though. One school that made a very big difference for me.
There’s some people who may think that there were some bad influences in there, but I believe with everything I know about myself that I was going to go in the direction I went regardless of the school I went to. It was this school I went to that gave me the tools and the opportunity to do what I am doing today.
Bear in mind this is less about traditional education and more about what they gave me in terms of knowledge, encouragement, and experience. There’s a lot of little things the people working for that school did for me as a student — and showed me parts of them as people, that really made me feel like I mattered. That I was somebody, someone besides my parents, actually cared about.
That’s really all I needed sometimes.
I don’t know what it was about me growing up, but kids didn’t like me. They really liked having me around so that they could put me down — and honestly, because at that time I just wanted friends. I let them do it.
It wasn’t always this way, of course. I don’t know if it was the age or the area, but this started when we first moved to Colorado and I was going to elementary school in Longmont.
Before then I had plenty of friends and we all got along in Halifax, Hong Kong, & Andover. Seriously, always. There wasn’t really any bullying or fighting. We were just laughing and having a good time regularly.
Well, there was one time in Andover.
We were riding on the bus and one of the fifth graders (I was in second grade at the time) was turning around the seat making fun of my friend, Jamie. Jamie and I haven’t spoken in years, but he was always really kind and generous with his things. He had more video games than me and a trampoline, so I loved spending time with him and getting to know him.
This jerk of a kid kept calling my friend a “lonely fat ass loser”
And so I looked him dead in the eye and said “Hey! Why don’t you pick on someone your own size, mongoloid!”
This was funny for a number of reasons. One, I think that’s the first time I had ever used that word and I heard it on an episode of the Simpsons… or Beavis & Butthead.
Secondly, I was a second grader telling this to a fifth grader about twice my size.
Thirdly, this is the very first time I was punched in the face.
I can’t remember if I got a suspension or just a stern phone call from the school for this, but I remember running up to the front of the bus crying to the bus driver.
The driver asked, “what’s going on?”
I, being of the healthy vocabulary I had at this time properly responded with the timeless:
“He punched me in my fucking nose!”
And that’s about the last conflict I remember with anyone in Andover before we moved. I had very many friends after that, all who wanted to spend time with me.
I really wish I was given a chance to do something like that early on in Colorado.
In Colorado I think kids quickly figured out I had something wrong with me way faster than I ever did. They spent a lot of lunches riling me up just to see me get angry and have a fit. I have fairly good equilibrium with my anger issues these days thanks to my meds, but back then I think kids got a lot of entertainment from me losing myself in a maelstrom of rage. I’m talking about the vein popping, murderous kind. There’s nothing about it I am proud of and I am glad to say that there are very few people now who can remember seeing me in that shameful state.
There’s a lot of details about those years that don’t need to be gotten into. What does is that when I went to September School, I was accepted.
I honestly really hurt myself there a little when I went. There were lots of kids I could have made really close, lifetime relationships with. But, being the person I am,
I found a girlfriend and completely absorbed myself in her.
I think, at that time, it was everything I wanted for my self-confidence and it honestly did help me focus on school, especially writing. Which looking back I think a lot of the teachers there very much focused on trying to get a lot of writing out of me. Getting me to practice it.
I was very often, almost constantly encouraged to write while I was in that school. It’s something that maybe didn’t mean as much to me as it should have then, but I can’t stop thinking about now.
I do still have some friendships from that school — though more acquaintances these days; it’s more my fault than anything. They were really nice and accepting kids that I am glad I got to know. I still miss a number of them as I was truly beginning to garner some really close friendships before moving off to college and losing my mind.
I really want to focus on the teaching, though. That is the thing that is really beginning to impact me now.
I wrote about encouragement earlier. September School is pretty much built from the foundations up on it. Now, it’s been about 10 years since my graduation so I am not entirely sure how much things have changed. I do know that while I was going there homework was not a priority.
Being there, being accepted, encouraging one another to be ourselves. That was pretty much the biggest deal that went on, and the teachers did this as well. I feel like they often tried their best to get through to the kids they were teaching to try and ignite something in them to apply themselves to.
Back then, I now know they were seeding some really good roots in me.
I still had my legal and mental problems after graduation — though looking back I have absolutely nothing but respect, admiration, and gratitude for what that school did for me.
I was actually able to graduate, for one! I could not apply myself enough in public high school for me to have been able to get a degree there. It would not have happened. I can very easily say I would not be where I’m at today without their schooling. At least not in the same way.
Now, with all this writing just coming so freely from me, I just don’t think there is a way to truly express my gratitude enough.
So I am going to do what I am doing now. Everything I have ever been encouraged to do. I am just going to keep writing.
I think, the deeper meaning I am trying to find from this piece is that maybe
it’s not always about how the person does in school — but how the school does for the person.
Were it not for September School I think I’d be far less successful and happy than I am now.
I wish there were more teachers like the ones at Sep School, the ones before them gave up on me pretty easily.
Thank you for reading.
©2017 Trevor Elms
Featured Photo by Michael H.-C. ©2008 – Various 2008 graduates pictured in Thailand.