Wrigley came home from school angry. She slammed the door shut so hard the glass in the window shook. Then she threw her backpack on the floor and kicked it across the kitchen.
Mom was shocked to see her normally docile 12 year-old daughter upset. One look at her face and Mom knew Wrigley needed a listening ear, not a lecture. Mom pulled out the chair and motioned for Wrigley to come sit down next to her.
Wrigley wiped her nose. “Mrs. King is a horrible teacher. She shouldn’t be allowed to treat kids that way.”
“What happened? You get along great with your teachers. You even enjoy having the title ‘teacher’s pet’.”
“It wasn’t me, Mom, Mrs. King made Ashley read aloud in Science today. Everyone in the class giggled because she has a hard time sounding out the words. But what Mrs. King did today was reprehensible. No one should be humiliated like that.”
Mom couldn’t help but smile at the use of her daughter’s big words. Wrigley had liked words from the time she was a baby. She was reading before she even started school.
“Ashley’s face turned all red. I thought she was going to cry. Then Mrs. King asked her how she managed to get all the way to 7th grade without knowing how to read.”
“That’s terrible,” Mom brushed Wrigley’s auburn hair out of her eyes. “What do you think we should do?”
“Well, at first I wanted you to handle it, but then I realized I need to do something. Can Ashley spend the weekend here? I have an idea on how to help Ashley without hurting her feelings. I’m babysitting Jordyn this weekend and she’s been begging me to teach her to read. If it’s okay with her mom, I’ll have Ashley help me.”
“I’ll talk to both girls’ moms and give them a heads-up on your plan and if they’re okay with it, I say go for it. But it’s going to be hard.“
“Ashley can read a few words, but the teachers keep passing her and no one helps her. Mrs. King said if she didn’t start trying harder she was going to insist Ashley be put in the special- needs room. She doesn’t belong there Mom. I know it.”
That Friday night, the plan was set into motion. Ashley and Wrigley went over to Jordyn’s house with their arms full of books, magnetic letters, and stickers. Wrigley told Ashley that Jordyn loved to play school.
“Now I’ll be the teacher first, you two be the students. Today we’re going to learn our letters and the sounds they make.” Wrigley pulled out the magnetic letters. At first Ashley helped Jordyn recognize the letters, but she wasn’t sure of all the sounds, but with Wrigley’s patient teaching, and her knack of making jokes, both girls learned quickly.
Soon the girls were having a snack. Ashley turned to Wrigley and gave her a hug. “Thanks, I know you’re doing this for me. You don’t have to pretend. I’ve wanted to ask you to help me, but I was embarrassed.”
Now that Wrigley didn’t have to worry about hurting her friend’s feelings, the lessons started in full force. Wrigley pulled out all of her books from when she was younger and the girls spent the rest of the weekend working on reading and spelling. Soon, Ashley was reading easily.
On Monday, Mrs. King asked Ashley to read, the look on Mrs. King’s face was priceless when Ashley didn’t stutter once.
The girls had also written a letter protesting the use of humiliation. They got many students to sign the petition and they presented it to the principal.
Later, Mrs. King pulled Ashley aside,”I’m sorry Ashley; things have been going on in my personal life that left me feeling angry. I didn’t realize I had been taking it out on you until that day in class when you started reading. Suddenly it was very clear to me that I had been treating you unfairly. Please forgive me.”
Ashley smiled, “I learned a lot from Wrigley. She taught me to read using her Bible storybooks. I also learned about Jesus. I know were not suppose to talk about Him in school, but if He can forgive my sins, I can forgive you, too. Now I am ready to face the world. I know how to read and I know Jesus loves me.”
Mrs. King smiled, “I think we’ll both be happier now.”
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