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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Reader (04/15/10)

TITLE: That Shouldn't Happen
By Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom


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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This article has been read 839 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Dolores Stohler04/24/10
Your story has a great plot and a great message as well. We could all learn from WRigley. Well done!
Kate Oliver Webb 04/24/10
Very nicely done. The dialog was spot on, and the story moved with just the right pace. Great ending--although I think it is a bit rare, unfortunately....
AnneRene' Capp04/26/10
Definitely a "feel good" story and Wrigley's mom deserves some credit too, for raising such a caring daughter :)
Good job with the dialogue!
Beth LaBuff 04/26/10
I think the name "Wrigley" for a girl is adorable! I was drawn into your story, eager to see where it progressed. I totally enjoyed it, and your ending had a beautiful message. Very nice work!
Jackie Wilson04/27/10
I really liked your story plot. You were able to squeeze quite a lot of plot into 750 words. Enjoyed the characters very much!
Edmond Ng 04/28/10
Very nicely written and definitely an interesting read! I especially like the way you bring out the characters in your story in showing their innocence and teachable spirits. I wish there are more characters like Wrigley these days who are so sensitive to the needs of others to want to help them, yet without making them look bad.
Lyn Churchyard04/28/10
Very enjoyable story. Love your characters- especially Wrigley and her warm and caring attitude. Well done.
harvestgal Ndaguba04/28/10
Oh Shann, I always love your stories so much. I so enjoyed this and I really loved the ending. What a wonderful person Wrigley is.
Loren T. Lowery04/28/10
What a great story and teaching lesson as well. I loved the spirit of the 12 year-old protagonist, wish we had more like her. Also, the wisdom of the mom.
Mona Purvis04/28/10
Shann, you are such an encourager that I suspect this is written from your own heart. Who doesn't love stories that help us grow and make us feel good?
Love it!

Verna Cole Mitchell 04/28/10
Shann, I fell in love with your MC...such a wise girl. You made the teacher's unfairness plausible. I liked it that she could admit she'd been wrong. This story sounds "real."
Carole Robishaw 04/28/10
Good job Shann, I enjoyed your story. I enjoyed the fact that the daughter was mature enough to turn it into a witness.
Karen Macor04/28/10
Nice story Shann. I would love to have a daughter like Wrigley. I love a happy ending.
Sarah Elisabeth 04/28/10
This reminded me of the wonderful young adult fiction I read growing up. I loved how the bad situation turned into such a wonderful one in many ways :-)
Joanna Stricker04/28/10
I applaud your MC's boldness and her taking of initiative to solve the problem. I agree with her "that shouldn't happen", but I like that her mother was willing to step in and act if needed. I'm not sure it was realistic that the mother would have offered her help and the teacher apologized, but certainly affirmed the MC's passion to help her friend. The way in which you told this story made me believe that the MC grew stronger in her convictions and principles from having taken action. Thanks for the happy ending!
Nicole Campbell04/28/10
Wow, this is an excellent story! I love your plot and it is very well written. I like how Wrigley and her friend help Ashley. And I like how you put that last piece in about God. Thanks for giving us all such a lovely read!
Ruth Stromquist04/29/10
I enjoyed this much, too. And I was carried along by Wrigley's emotions and response to the situation in a special way. It may be I was asleep at the switch but one thing that confused me was Ashley's learning to read in, what looked to be, just one weekend, by the way it was phrased. It's possible though, that I missed some signal that more time was passing.
Joshua Janoski04/29/10
Writing can evoke all kinds of emotions depending on the tone of the piece, and I would say that this one was an "all smiles" tone. Definitely a piece of writing to make us feel good and remind us that we need to be sensitive to the needs and feelings of other people.

Thank you for sharing your writing with all of us. :)
Helen Dowd04/29/10
What a precious story! And it has taught a great lesson too, bringing back some of my childhood days and humiliation. One never forgets a teacher's meanness. I recall the time the teacher told me, in front of the whole class, that the story I turned in was too good to be mine. I must have cheated. I didn't. And this has stayed with me for 6 decades. I loved your story. And it certainly was on the topic....Blessings...Helen
Caitlyn Meissner04/30/10
I just read your story and I thought it was great. Thanks for all the advice you've given me on mine.