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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Encouragement (02/23/12)

TITLE: She May Be Pretty, But She's Dumb As A Rock!
By Jennifer Porter


Tina stood outside the door waiting for her tutor and heard her Government teacher say, “She’s pretty, but dumb as a rock. Don’t waste your time or sappy encouragement on that one.” Tina pulled back, her heart beating hard against her chest. She knew the tutor had seen her and set off down the hall at a run, humiliation flooding all of her senses.
She did not see the tutor’s finger pointed at the obnoxious teacher, “Shame on you!”
Tina ducked into a room to avoid Mrs. Mink and sank down in a chair waiting for her to pass. As the footsteps paused, she knew she’d entered the room and wiped a tear as the woman held out a tissue.
“Do not listen to anyone who doesn’t care if you fail! You have to pass the OGT, and I am your best hope to do that.”
Tina looked at the woman, her anger rising, “Didn’t you hear? Mr. Bear said I am dumb as a rock!” She rose, anger giving her courage, “Why do you think you can succeed where everyone else has failed?” Tina looked the woman square in the face and set her quivering chin. Mrs. Mink’s eyes closed for a moment to send off a quick prayer. She wished she could tell this girl that she’d been praying for her since she received her roster.
“When I was in high school, I was just like you.”
Tina’s eyes shot up and stared at the woman she knew had at least a college degree. “How then? How?”
“My counselor said, “face it Girlie, you are not smart enough.” I went home and told my mother and when I graduated with honors from Ashland University, she stormed into Mr. Bane’s office and slammed a copy of my degree down on his desk and told him not to discourage another student!
Mrs. Mink had her attention, and Tina asked once again, “but how?”
“A professor taught me to study and take a test, and that Tina is the gift I will give to you.” Mrs. Mink studied the girl before her with her nearly transparent blue eyes, now rimmed with red lids. She watched as courage rose in the girl’s expression and smiled as she pushed back her nearly white blonde hair from her face.
“I’m in! I want to learn how to study!” This declaration began a journey of study skills, colored schedules, note cards, all combined with repetition and Tina was shooting off the answers to all the questions she was asked until it was time to take the practice test.
She failed it, miserably. When asked what happened, she said, ‘’the same thing that always happens, I went blank! Why am I such a loser?”
“You are not a loser! Tell me something you think you do well.” Tina thought for a moment then said, “I am the lead in a play at church right now.”
“What happens when the curtain rises?”
Tina frowned, “What do you mean?”
“Do you go blank?”
“Because I am doing it for the Lord.” Tina smiled and shrugged.
“Ahhh, we are told to do everything for God’s glory. Can you ask your church family to pray for you?” She assured her teacher that she could do that. “God promises that to he will make wise the simple. It is one of God’s promises.” Mrs. Mink sat back and waited for the girl to respond and was surprised when an alto voice rose from the girl that didn’t seem to fit with her appearance and she began to sing the chorus to a song. It was the nineteenth Psalm.
“Oh my, then God can really help me, He can help me to remember? Wow!” Tina burst out laughing and her confidence was restored.
Tina passed the Ohio Graduation Test at the top of her class! Her fear of tests kept her from realizing the potential that God had planned for her until she put her trust in Him. Penny Local Schools had never seen a kid blow the test out of the water after failing five times. She went on to Nursing School and is now teaching her own children their value in the Lord.
Christina’s Government teacher responded by saying, “even a blind squirrel finds a nut every once in a while.”
Mrs. Mink and Tina are still friends. The story is true though the names have been changed. I am that teacher, and Tina was one of my students.

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C D Swanson 03/01/12
Oh I simply loved this.

What a beautiful and inspiring story. This was so touching, I knew it had to be true. The true stories always call out to my heart!

I loved it. You are wonderful, congratulations!
This will touch many.

God Bless you~
Martha Black03/01/12
Oh! I love the guts of those who will stand and fight for one with potential, even if that one has no clue she has it. The teacher with the "blind squirrel" comment needs to be drummed out of teaching. You need to be congratulated for this story, but much more for being a teacher who changes lives.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 03/05/12
This is a good story and a great example of encouragement, both the positive and negative.

You had some tiny typos and one or two sentences that felt awkward. Get a good proofer and have them read it aloud. If they stumble, you may want to restructure the sentence.. Also if you double space between paragraphs it will give the reader that all-important white space.

The fact that this was true really touched my heart. My oldest struggled in high school but once she receive the proper help, she thrived, went on and received her Master's. Thank you for caring for the students who will one day be our hope for the future.
Kathleen Langridge03/08/12
The powerful contrast between positive and negative words. Thank you for sharing this important story.

One bit of red ink. You shared 2 POV's the student and the teacher. Perhaps the piece is too short for both?