Not Quite Good Enough

Help is often available for top performing students and students who are struggling but many others fall in the cracks.

Photo of Donna Teuber
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My college going story reflects a journey that many students experience. I started off slow in school. A red bird, not a blue bird, in reading circles. The last student picked for softball teams. The clumsy leftie in a right-handed world. Invisible and without a voice, I struggled to be heard.

In my middle school, homeroom sections were arranged by academic level. Students in 7A knew they were the top students. Students in 7b were not quite good enough. Fighting my way forward, I was able to bring up my scores and get placed up a little higher on the alphabet.

In high school, I continued to make progress forward but never made it into the inner circle of the top students who were talented, well-dressed, and popular. I remember going to the guidance office to seek help for scholarships. My SAT score was not quite good enough to gain the attention of the counselors. After digging deep into the scholarship file, I found an application for orphans and half-orphans. This was my ticket to college. Not quite good enough to have a complete set of parents but good enough to qualify for funding. 

I finally received a second scholarship that enabled me to attend college. Not quite good enough, the funds didn't cover housing so I lived at home for two years and commuted to campus.  I worked, learned, ate noodle soup, and fought hard for an education and career. An English professor told me that my writing would never be quite good enough if I continued to work while taking his class. 

Even today, I have those moments when I feel not quite good enough. My wish is that we can find a way to use our powers of observation to identify the students who are falling between the cracks before they begin to feel that way. Every student deserves the opportunity to pursue their dreams and we must dig deep to help them feel successful at an early age so that they can achieve those dreams.

[Optional] Synthesize a little! In one sentence, describe what you learned from your empathy exercises or analogous research. (Ex: Good advisors make a difference.)

We must mind the gap to make sure that no student falls through the cracks.

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Photo of Charles Shryock, IV

Thank you Donna for sharing this story in such a compelling and memorable way!  

It's so critical for educators to embrace the wish you put forward at the end, that we "find a way to use our powers of observation to identify the students who are falling between the cracks before they begin to feel" like they are not quite good enough.  

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