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Classroom reflections

November 17, 2008|By CLAUD KITCHENS

She was in the sixth grade, stuttered badly and was an academic fiasco. Needless to say, she was the butt of many jokes. Children at that age can be inordinately cruel to one another.

I examined many of her test results, particularly in arithmetic. It did not take long to determine that her problems stemmed back to the second and third grade. She would add 17 and 17 and get 24 for an answer, not in any way understanding the tenets of the number system.

Her third-, fourth- and fifth-grade teachers had all written in her anecdotal record that she was careless in arithmetic.

We now had a clue as to how this "carelessness" could be corrected.

More important, though, her sixth-grade teacher, who was also our chorus director, discovered that she had a marvelous voice. When she sang she never stuttered and was clearly the outstanding member of our chorus.

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No, she did not become a great scholar, but she did become a great average student. It takes a lot of hard work to discover talent.

Claud Kitchens has been an educator for more than 35 years, retiring in 1990 as the deputy state superintendent of the Maryland State Department of Education. Prior to that, he was the superintendent of Washington County Public Schools.

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