That Little Girl With the Crooked Pigtails

can't wait to reach the door of her classroom and hug you, every single morning.

knows you will welcome her with a smile, and that makes her feel special.

thinks sitting in the back row next to your desk is perfect. In fact, sitting any place in your classroom is her favorite.

loves school; it's her safe place.

wishes you knew how much you meant to her.

would like to tell you why she "cold-stares" at the kids that make fun of her. In fact, she wishes she could tell you that she has mastered that look to hide the band-aids that are attempting to hold her broken heart together.

swallows hard and says, "Fine" when asked how her night was.

will not tell you the truth about what's happening in her mind and heart no matter how hard you might pry. Never.

wishes you knew she hides in the wooded area behind her house to sit alone and cry rivers of tears.

wants you to know she feels like a jagged puzzle piece that never really fits in--no matter where it's placed.

has better handwriting but had to do her homework on the shaky bus ride to school.

wishes you knew how badly she wants to make you happy, but doing homework is the last thing on her mind each evening.

is grateful you taught her to write. Years later, it's still her passion.

when she smiles with that little twinkle in her eye, she truly believes you when you say, "You will reach your dreams one day! Keep working hard. You're an overcomer."

holds on to your every word when you kneel down and look her in the eyes and say, "You're not defined by your current circumstances. You will write your own story. DREAM BIG, sweetie!"

will remember you some thirty plus years later and all of the "life-lessons" you taught her.

will come to an understanding that "ONE person believing in another" can and will reshape one's future.

will one day pay it forward and show empathy while encouraging other students and adults to follow their passions and overcome--just like you modeled for her.

will have scars as an adult but will stand strong.



Because of YOU!

Did you make every student in your class feel like the favorite?

Most likely.

But to this ONE, YOU stood out.

You gave her hope to cling onto, and she still hasn't let go! To this day, over three decades later, your words ring in her heart and mind.

To the Educators of the World

Your words and actions are unforgettable. Measure what you say and how you say it. The good and the bad stick--for years and years to come. Listen to learn from ALL kids. They have a perspective, too.

Be the difference for that little girl with crooked pigtails (and the little boys) in your class, school, or district.

You never know, but one day she might prove to all of those that once tried to tear her down that she will stand strong and overcome!

Tara Martin: Author: Be REAL Educate from the Heart, Educational Leader, Instructional Coach, Technology & Social Emotional Learning Expert

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