Her name was Mrs. Borowski. She was my 7th grade English teacher.
7th grade was horrific for me. We had moved from a racially mixed school district to a school district where there was ONE black kid in the whole junior high school.
That lone black kid was ME.
Until then I had never heard the “N” word negatively before. I never had someone who didn’t know me look at me with such hate and malice. It’s beyond jarring when you are 12 years old. There’s no way to really process it.
I spiraled into what is now known as depression…but we didn’t have that diagnosis or meds back then. I had to take the good ol’ medicine of ‘suck it up.’
I trudged through 7th grade and became physically ill at the thought of going to 8th.
While sitting in the gym for an assembly to tell us our homerooms, I caught Mrs. Borowski’s eye. She was smiling from ear to ear, actually beaming! She mouthed the following words to me:
“I have you again this year!!!” And then she gave me a thumbs up.
I still remember how I felt inside. It validated me. From that moment on, I took school on with a vengeance.
If you’re a teacher and you’re headed back to school, I just want to tell you that you matter.
What you say matters.
Your smile matters.
Your words of encouragement matter.
God used a smile and thumbs up from Mrs. Borowski to change the course of my life.
You’re making a difference out there guys… I pray you never forget that.
Sherri has one of the most refreshing takes on race, friendship, and grace. You should hear her talk about it with Brant Hansen on their podcast!
Sherri is also a writer and director. She recently produced and released a comedy DVD entitled "The Very Funny Church Comedy Show: Together We Laugh." Sherri also wrote, directed, and starred in a stage play about race in the church. "The Bold and the Sanctified" showed in various cities, sold out multiple performances, and starred American Idol winner Ruben Studdard.
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