Word Count: 498
By Peg Scarano
My oldest daughter did well academically and while she didn’t excel in sports, she always gave it her all. When she was in middle school, she decided to join the bowling team. It was right up her alley as it didn’t matter what the weather was and she never worked up a sweat. While she might not have been the best bowler, she was competitive and supportive of her teammates. So much so, that as an 8th grader, she received the coveted “Sportsmanship Award” at the end of season. This honor was bestowed upon a student in grades 7-12, in any winter sport, who may not have been the most talented athlete, but demonstrated the most heart, tried their best and supported their teammates with enthusiasm.
Also in 8th grade, Jenny had to take an elective course in music. The choices were chorus, band or general music. She was already taking piano lessons (which she claimed gave her gray hair at age 12) so wanted nothing to do with band or general music so chorus won. While she came in right on cue and her heart was in the right place when she belted out her notes – they may have been a bit off-key.
The day after Jenny received the Sportsmanship Award, I knew right away something was wrong when she got home. I would have given my right arm to know what was bothering her. I finally took her aside and she let go. She explained, between hiccup sobs, that her chorus teacher humiliated her in front of the entire class that morning by saying she did not deserve to receive that award. I was gut-punched. Why would a teacher say something like that to a child in front of her peers? Could it possibly be because she sang a bit off-tune? Could she be that shallow? Jenny proclaimed she was not disruptive and always tried her best and did nothing she could think of to earn this act of cruelty.
My first reaction was I had to put this to rights and confront the teacher immediately. But then I thought about it. This teacher was the wife of the principal. Jenny had four more years of school ahead of her and we had two more daughters journeying through that same school in the future. How do I explain to my daughter that this incident may be a rite of passage – and I could be dead right by making a big deal about this woman’s total indiscretion?
I felt I had every right to go to the school and report this woman to her husband but would two wrongs make a right? I explained to Jenny that while she had every right to feel angry and want to quit chorus, she needed to be the bigger person and show this teacher she truly earned that Sportsmanship Award for her stick-to-itiveness and having the right stuff to forgive. To this day I believe we did the right thing.