I have been writing in this exercise journal I have called “300 Writing Prompts” (available here) and the one I got tonight sparked this post. The prompt was, “What did you get into trouble for the most when you were a kid?”  My immediate thought brought me back to my lovely years at Shenendehowa High School. Please read the word lovely with full sarcasm. I had quite an interesting experience there.  I kept to myself for the most part, had my headphones (secretly) in 99% of the time, and conversed with my small circle of friends.

If you attended Shenedehowa during the same time as I did, I’m sure you saw me in the principal’s office at least once a week. I wasn’t your typical delinquent, but I was the best dressed one in the office. Which brings me to my crime itself: I was called to the principal’s office regularly because of my outfit.

The school's administrators had their excuses and reasonings every time and it got to the point where they would even suspend me, sometimes out of school, sometimes in-school. I never knew what I was going to get! They would constantly call my parents about my outfits. Good tactic, but I lived with my parents and they saw me leave the house everyday. My dad began to measure my skirts/dresses with a ruler so he was prepared for the principal's call. I was actually interviewed for the school newspaper as they believed I was targeted. I mean, really?? This type of shenanigans in school? Keeping me from learning because they didn’t like my outfit. I believe it was much deeper than that, though. It was because I did not conform to the ways of the school. I walked, talked and did my thing-the Stephanie way. I knew I wanted to pursue a fashion career and I barely paid attention in a lot of my classes. We would be in the computer lab working on a project and I would be on Women’s Wear Daily putting together mood boards and taking full advantage of the available printer ink.

The sad part about this all is that I believe schools should embrace students who are passionate about something. Instead, I was literally called into the principals office for her to ask me the following question: “Do you have a plan b for your career?”

Do I have a plan B?????? <Soulja Boy voice> I was baffled at that question; I am so glad I am a strong individual and didn’t take that to heart. You go to school with the intention to get educated and learn how to pursue a career and this lady is asking me if I had a plan B because my career is hard and not everyone makes it. I believe education is crucial in life, but I don’t believe it’s fair for one system and one curriculum to determine if a student is “smart” or “dumb.” It is not that black and white. Everyone has different learning abilities, passions, interests and so on. Everyone has different interests and things they’re passionate about. A student shouldn’t be considered “dumb” if they don’t necessarily excel in subjects they aren’t passionate about. I know, for myself, I never did well in math. I went to all of my math classes trying; I just couldn’t connect to it. I shouldn’t be punished and made to feel like I’m not smart enough because I didn’t excel in one of my classes. If we are talking English or biology, I kept 97% averages in those classes. I believe schools should find a system where students are able to almost curate what they study, maybe by junior year. Of course, there will be core classes necessary. Tell me though, have you used algebra in the past week??

Schools should teach us about filing taxes, money management, mental health. Real world stuff. I personally know so many people who got out of high school and had no idea how to move forward transitioning into “adult life.” I look at my current situation and where I’m at and realize the many ways in which it had nothing to do with school. I am where I am because I didn’t listen to my principal when she told me to have a plan B. My plan B is to make my plan A work. Oh, and ironically enough, I won best dressed my senior year, so somebody liked my outfit! I leave you with two thoughts: The educational system is broken and don’t let anybody tell you shit.