In the early 1980’s I realized that due to the Freedom of Information Act I could access my school records from Kindergarten all the way through High School. I could finally see my IQ score and what all those teachers had said about me. So on one of my rare visits back home to Tennessee I made the proper arrangements.

You had to review the documents in the presence of a guidance counselor. I guess this was in case you freaked out; you would have some help nearby. At 10 AM I arrived for my appointment and was ushered into the records room where I was met by “Mike Ellis, plastic vomit!” I looked up startled…”Mrs. Bond” I sputtered,” what a surprise to see you.” During my 9th grade year in Mrs. Bond’s first year as a teacher I had pretended to throw up in the back of the classroom. My cohorts in crime did a fine acting job of being totally grossed out by my actions. It was not the first time or the last I was sent to the Principals Office that year. I had made a memorable impression on my biology teacher and she was interested to see how I was doing.

As I thumbed through the quarterly reports, there was a constant theme according to the teachers – Has ability, does not apply self….tends to cutup and disrupt the class…too smart for his own good….Class clown I suggest placing in the front row… Mike could make better grades if he tried harder….

You get the idea. Turns out the dire handwringing of all those teachers wasn’t worth the paper they were written on. I have run my own business for 30 years, which requires lots of self-motivation. I work and play hard. I’m still a cut up, only now it’s part of my profession. I suspect there are tons of kids out there like me who don’t meet their teacher’s expectations but need the right garden to grow in or have vices just waiting to become virtues. Parents worry about their kids, and that’s only natural. But it’s important to have a little faith in them, and their ability to figure life out. I wasn’t particularly popular in high school and neither my grades nor, as it turned out, my IQ impressed anybody. But I’ve lived a happy, successful life that I’m proud of. You just never know how those underachievers will turn out, do you Mrs. Bonds?



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August 6, 2009