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grades & comments 1979-1993

In this directory lie grades & comments from all my teachers between kindergarden in 1979 to senior year of high school in 1993.

I spent that time at Francis Parker, an urban private school in Chicago that didn’t give grades until 7th grade, emphasizing comments as a way to give constructive feedback, aligned with the school's progressive character.

Sadly too many of these educators are now deceased, and the rest are retired so I feel decent about the statute of limitations on hurting anyone’s professional situation with any of this material. Largely it's a chance for me to feel a knot in my stomach as I review the trouble I caused my peers and teachers.

My first report cards from Kindergarden May 1980 appear to foreshadow my unruliness:

Justin appears to be more ego-centered than most four and five year olds. ... He seems to be wrestling for leadership of the class. Even a slight change in routine, such as reading the story before singing, can cause him to question the change, and he cannot be counted on to cooperate or participate. ... if someone else chooses the song, he may even go so far as to try to get his "followers" to sing the song of his choosing.

In fact any change in his family routine seems to affect him intensely. ... he continues to have extreme difficulty in controlling himself and demands constant attention.

and Kindergarden May 1980 page 2:
Several of the parents said Justin was ruining their child's school day. ... Most of his activities disturb and disrupt others, rather than contributing to group play. In the future, Justin will need to work on developing a sensitivity to the rights and needs of others.
By the next year, May 1981, my teacher Ms. Kaplan had found some ways to focus my energy. First and second grade echo the themes of distraction but promise, attention-seeking and disruption. "He is often found walking around the room becoming involved in other's work when he should remain in his seat doing his own."

Third grade is hard to read - that was the year my father died, and I can see the teacher aiming to balance the knowledge of that tragedy with the reality of trying to educate a distracting student.

By 8th grade, the school was suggesting that maybe I should enroll elsewhere. I stuck around somehow, and by 10th grade I failed history, biology and math in one semester.

That handwriting is from Barr McCutcheon a beloved eccentric math teacher.

By my junior and senior year I figured out how to play the school game enough to lift my grades and opinions in the eyes of my teachers.

I was honored to be elected to give the 1993 graduation speech.

Why post all this stuff? As I age I can look back at this and see how much I've grown, and how much I haven't. I can see how my actions impacted others, and I can begin to imagine what it might be like to try to tame someone who was so seized by their own chaotic rhythm.

1979-1993 school comments archive

Kindergarden through 2nd
both Junior & Senior Kindergarden
3rd and 5th grade
My father died in 1983, during 3rd grade for me.
6 and 7th grade
8th grade
The lowest point in my schooling, until sophomore year!
Freshman year
Sophomore year
The nadir of my schooling - nadir means lowest point, I learned that studying for my SAT tests.
Junior year
Senior year

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