And thank you to the teacher who didn’t believe in me
It’s the end of the school year, the summer vacation is definitely here. All the media platforms are full of photographs of parents bursting with pride in their children and their end-of-year report cards. I thought to myself, What would have happened if we’d had Facebook when I was at school? Would my parents have posted proud photographs?
I remember myself as a little girl and as an adolescent, just hoping that I’d manage to finish the school year, so I’d know I was going up to the next grade. I remember my mother looking at my far-from-perfect report card, searching for a ray of light, reinforcing me and reminding me of what’s truly important. My mother would run around trying to find ways to help me. They tried everything on me… private tutors, innovative teaching/learning methods of one kind or another, assessments… all to try and help me. Perhaps from the side it seemed that I was a lazy girl, but that wasn’t the case, I really did try. What kept me going, and ultimately saved me, was that my parents identified two areas in which I was strong. One was dance – I danced from a very young age, and even passed a matriculation exam in dance at the dance studio in Kibbutz Gaaton.
And the other was design – I studied in the design track at Ofek High School in Kibbutz Evron, while studying all the other subjects at Sulam Tzor High School in Kibbutz Gesher Haziv.
In high school I didn’t have time to breathe! I’d go to school in the morning, study throughout the day, design track till 16:00 twice a week, and every day after school I’d go up to Gaaton to dance for three hours, only getting home in the evening. That was my life throughout high school, even during the matriculation exams.
I remember in the transition from middle school to high school, one of the teachers came up to me during recess, and said: Avital, how do you intend to study for full matriculation in the design track as a well as the dance track? You’ve got so many learning difficulties, even Ido (a pseudonym), who is the class genius, isn’t capable of studying so manty units!
I remember my sense of shock and insult from that conversation, and at that moment I decided to prove to her that I am capable – with blood, sweat, and lots of tears – of completing twelve years of study with full matriculation. And I did! Big time, in spite of all the difficulties. That teacher did not understand that the two tracks (design and dance) were precisely the places where I flourished, “soared”, that as far as I was concerned, they did not pose any difficulty or frustration, in contrast with the regular lessons.
Some years later, after I completed my army service, I enrolled in the industrial design program at Holon Institute of Technology. In effect, I continued to reinforce and express one of my greatest strengths – design.
I graduated after four grueling, but very enjoyable and empowering, years, and submitted a final project that gained an outstanding grade!
Today I am ready to share and reveal my feelings, many years have elapsed, and I am now in a place where I am much less embarrassed. I understand that my dyslexia and attention disorders enable me to be who I am. At the same time, I am continuously searching for ways to surmount limitations, to express myself better, to achieve attention and concentration in my own way.
For example, a situation that stemmed from my difficulty became a language for me. Some of you may have noticed that the names of all the AV products are English transliterations of Hebrew words. For instance, PAMOT=candlestick. I wanted the names of my products in English to be easy for me to remember, so I decided to create a language of my own. Since it’s hard for me to remember that pamot is candlestick, I simply gave it the “English” name PAMOT.
Since I began giving lectures on the path I travelled until I opened my business, I have been exposing my dyslexia, who Avital really is. Perhaps due to these lectures, I also mustered the courage to write this blog post.
So, to all those students who are looking at their “challenging” report card, don’t give up! Search for the subject/hobby/talent/that thing that inspires passion in you, and amplify it. Know that it is precisely in a place that’s full of obstacles that the most important lessons in life are learned, and that’s what will ensure that you don’t give up in the future as well.
And to you, dear parents, remember! “I’m not giving in to you, because I’m not giving up on you!”
Every child needs one adult to believe in them, to see them.
A report card is a collection of remarks and observations translated into a numerical grade. If we look at the report card a little differently, as a kind of self-examination by the child, how much they invested, and whether they gave it their all – if they did, then excellent. The number doesn’t really matter.
Thank you to my parents, who throughout the years have seen me, identified my strengths, and tried to find every possible and impossible way to help me grow.
A final thank you goes to my husband, who has been accompanying me since high school, and who never looked at the difficulty/extra challenges I have to face. Thank you for your trust in me and in my path.
Wishing us all, students and parents, an enjoyable, safe, and recharging summer vacation (well, maybe a bit less “recharging” for the parents among us 😉)