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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Accent (02/21/13)

TITLE: My Not-So-Foreign Accent
By Verna Cole Mitchell


“Our accent is on quality.” With a very strong foreign accent, a businessman used this slogan to advertise his company on local radio stations. Many years ago, I selected my own attribute to accentuate. Since as a teacher in public schools I was not permitted to speak to my students concerning my Christian faith, I chose kindness as my silent witness.

At times it was very difficult to demonstrate kindness, like when Jason stuck a pencil in the back of the head of the girl in front of him . . . Alicia came ten minutes late to class, slammed the door behind her, and fell down in front while I had an observer in the classroom to rate my teaching . . . Terry said that nobody had to listen to me or do their assignments ‘cause I wasn’t the boss of them . . . ad-infinitum.

When a student asked me one day why I did not yell at them like some of their other teachers did, I told him that it was my goal to be kind. I thought I might have been succeeding pretty well until another student offered, “But you want to watch out when she gets real quiet.”

And another added, “I’d rather she’d yell at me than give me ‘that look.’” Well, maybe I needed to work on that “being kind” business just a little more!

Sometimes students tried to take advantage of my tender spirit. Because so many students had “borrowed” lunch money, it became necessary to announce that this “teacher bank” had gone out of business due to bad loans. The next day at lunchtime, Billy just sat at his desk, instead of going to lunch. When I asked him why he wasn’t leaving, he said, “I don’t have any lunch money, so I guess I’ll just go to the cafeteria and smell the food.” Maybe just one more loan wouldn’t hurt!

Not only did I want to be kind, but I also tried to encourage my eighth graders to demonstrate kindness to each other. I put up posters that said “BE KIND” and gave many verbal reminders. Sometimes when a couple of students were having a disagreement (understatement here), and I would try to mitigate the situation, they would say, “We know, Mrs. Matthews—Be kind,” followed by long sighs.

Because of God’s never-changing grace that He has graciously given to me, my desire has been to show compassion to others in all the circumstances of my life, especially in my own home. My family can tell you that I have not always been successful, but they might say they have always found me to be trying (maybe sometimes very trying). Still, I can state firmly, “With God’s help, my accent is on kindness.”

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This article has been read 426 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Noel Mitaxa 03/01/13
A neat and totally credible cameo, with light humour, strong characters and a positive message. Well done.
Beth LaBuff 03/01/13
I love the aspect of accent that you present here. The contrast of your title with the beginning of your first paragraph intrigued me. You've given an inspirational look at a life honoring to God. I think your "silent message" came through loud and clear, to not only your students, but you family, also. ...And that's a beautiful thing.
C D Swanson 03/02/13
Beautiful message in this well written and clever piece. Thank you.

God bless~
Bonnie Bowden 03/02/13
I liked how you wove the key word throughout the story. The students were memorable MC's. It is hard being a great teacher in a world so full of need.
Ellen Carr 03/02/13
I enjoyed your teaching tale. As an ex-teacher I know how it's hard to be firm but fair, kind but in control, etc. Well done.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 03/03/13
This story really touched my heart because my youngest just decided to study education. I can see her trying to be like the MC in this delightful story. It's so important, no matter what our occupation is, We need to show the world the same mercy Christ has shown us.
Judith Gayle Smith03/05/13
So lovely. You drew me in and I became your MC. Thank you for the great trip!

Loving you in through and because of Jesus, the Christ . . .

Have you "thrown a brick"?
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 03/07/13
Congratulations on ranking 10 in Masters and 19 overall!