Some Things are Worth Repeating


There’s something about this time of year – the end of the school year – that brings back so many memories. Right now I’m thinking of my teacher friends and how they are packing up their classrooms. I think back on all my kiddos that I have taught over the years and remember how far they had come and how proud I was of them! As a teacher I always really enjoyed reflecting on the year with my students and secretly sort of wished we weren’t quite done yet. But, that wasn’t always the case for me.

elementary pic

When I think back on my end of year days during my elementary school years as a child I was…happy! Happy that the school year was over with! No more homework, no more failing grades, no more tutoring, no more feeling so behind, no more feeling like I was at the bottom of the barrel of kids in my class…just no more! In case my past sentiments are not clear – I HATED school! Well, I didn’t hate all of school – I had a ton of friends and there were some subjects I really liked such as art, music, and P.E. What I hated was the feeling of treading water in my educational ocean trying to keep my head above the pounding waves. I was nearly drowning…another words nearly failing, but hanging on by the skin of my teeth. So, on I went to the next grade and the cycle would begin again.


I had some great teachers and then some really horrible teachers who even after I practically begged them to re-explain something refused to help me. My parents spent hours doing homework with me, I went to tutoring several days a week, but it didn’t help much.


Now, another fun fact: I am a June baby – another words I was always the youngest in the class (it’s June 5th by the way, in case you feel like sending me a birthday shout out ;). Emotionally I was not immature, but it seemed I just wasn’t quite ready when it came to learning. It wasn’t until right after sixth grade, as I barely met the requirements to enter the seventh grade that I had had enough!


I could write a novel about my education experience especially since my schooling took place abroad and I started my schooling in the German system before switching to a British International school – but that would be a different post entirely. But when my teachers told my parents that they felt I wasn’t “college material” I had a sassy mental finger waggling “Oh no you didn’t” moment and decided that barely passing wasn’t for me.

uwc pic

Two weeks into seventh grade I was able to switch schools and decided that I wanted to repeat the sixth grade. After all, nobody knew me, so what was the difference, right? Sure, I felt a little awkward at first, especially since I went from being the youngest to being one of the oldest in my grade. Did I get a few questions from my fellow classmates? Yes, but it wasn’t an issue and I came to find out that I wasn’t the only one. After about a week I was just another sixth grader. It was a LIFE changing decision for me. I suddenly started “getting it”! I was processing the information and able to really learn and absorb it. Before I was a D student and all of a sudden I was an A student!


I don’t think there are enough words to describe what that did to my self-esteem and confidence. I didn’t care that I had to repeat a grade because I was finally successful. Do you know what that does to a person? It changes the way you look at your life and what you envision doing with it. I went from hating school to loving it and developing a passion for learning. Before I felt like I was at the bottom of the barrel, struggling to get by and I was embarrassed because I felt like all the other kids knew. Suddenly I was at the top of my game. I was no longer treading water but swimming full force. I graduated from High School with enough credits to enter college as a sophomore and graduated from my university with honors. Who knew that holding myself back a year would actually propel me forward? It has played a HUGE role as to why I am so passionate about education and learning, and hence went into teaching.

smu grad pic

So, why am I sharing this über personal story with all of you? Well, like I said the end of the school year brings back many memories, it’s the completion of one grade and for most it’s on to the next – but maybe you know of someone that is not moving on, or someone who is on the cusp like I was for so long. I just wanted to share my story and how my decision to repeat a grade affected me. Every child is different and parents – you know your kids best. Repeating a grade wasn’t the end of the world for me, in fact it opened up a brand new one 🙂


I hope you all have a fabulous, safe summer and enjoy your kiddos! Oh, and don’t forget to read (I can’t help it, it’s the teacher in me) 😉

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Stephanie Cullum
Hey y’all! My name is Stephanie, a stay-at-home mommy, former teacher, Gemini, lover of books, quirky shoes, jeans (I own like twenty of them), coffee, travel and good food…oh and I’m also a wife and mother to my one and only daughter – she’s two and cute as a button! I’m half American and half German, born in Argentina, and grew up in Germany, Hong Kong and Singapore before moving to Dallas to go to college (go SMU). Needless to say I’m not a native to the Rio Grande Valley, but my husband is. He enticed me down here with the promise of good Mexican food, beaches, and close proximity to a foreign country – so here we are six years later and I couldn’t be happier calling the RGV home!


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