Rejection…the very word itself sends goose-bumps all over my body.  It isn’t a four letter word, yet almost everyone avoids it as if it were!  Rejection can be a motivator since most people will work extra hard to prevent its appearance in their lives.  It can be a destroyer as one child tells another on the playground, “I won’t be your friend anymore.”   Rejection can be positive as one rejects an evil act. However, he/she dared to take a stand!

            I am currently transcribing report card grades for my students.  When it comes to these little first grade students, my heart always tugs with my brain.  In our school, we have required letter grades for all students in first through twelfth grades.  I know that many schools refuse to give grades to these little ones.  However, I have wrestled with this for 50 years now…and I’ve concluded that it is a wise thing to assign the grades at this level.

            If I give in and give all my students the “one size fits all” grade, I will be guilty of assuring them that what effort they have put forth in our classroom is “just fine.”  There will be no need for them to expend any greater effort than that which they are giving now.  Well, this simply is NOT true for some of these students.  They must see a need for increased effort, or they may never reach their potential in school or in life.

            Local banks added to this dilemma by offering savings accounts with a donation for students who made all “A”s on their report cards.  Parents immediately wanted “A”s for their child to earn the bank’s rewards.  Yes, I immediately felt the pressure.

            Tonight I am wondering if this is one of those areas we have let slip into our culture, bringing with it problems of entitlement.  We see it all around us as people of all ages refuse to handle rejection.  We have jilted lovers taking innocent lives, disgruntled workers seeking revenge, and college students burning buildings in protest over not getting their way. 

            As I look back over my life, I remember several “rejections” which proved to be the best thing to ever happen.  My husband and I wanted to buy a condo in Tulsa our second year of marriage.  I thought I would be able to get the money we needed from a good source, but my request was rejected.  I soon found that rejection a wonderful thing…I became pregnant the next month…and we found in the small print of the condo contract the rule that “no children are permitted.”

            My husband won a superior service award from the Department of the Army for his work as the religious education director for Ft. Sill one night, only to receive a reduction in forces notice two days later.  We thought it was the end of our world.  However, that rejection for contract renewal led him to a different degree pursuit and a very successful and fulfilling career.  We both felt it was the best thing ever to happen to us.

            So, I sit here again pondering the grades I shall be entering on the report cards before me.  My mind wanders back to my first teaching experience as a classroom teacher.  I had a student whose parents gave him everything he ever wanted.  So, his birthday wish at six years of age was for a motorcycle.  He already had bikes, 3-wheelers, etc.  They argued over grades for him, too.  I am so sad to say, he led an unhappy life…and finally accidently killed himself at a very young age after drug problems.    As hard as it feels, I shall be entering some “C” grades…but perhaps those little ones will accept the challenge to put forth greater effort.          

-          Kay