As ninth grade came to a close, our course selection sheets were handed out and to be turned in the following week. Under the history category as an upcoming sophomore, I had two options: Honors World History or AP European History. Because of my love for history, I wanted to choose a harder option to push myself and explore an area that already fascinated me. I asked my mom and Ms. Dewberry for their opinion on the matter and both came to the same consensus: you should take AP European History. When your mom and a teacher you highly respect tells you to do something, you do it. As a result, I put a check mark next to the AP European History course option excited and confident about my decision. Little did I know how much one advanced placement history course would change my life as a student and as a person.
Within the first two weeks of school, we were told that we would have a test on some of our summer work, specifically the Renaissance. The test would include matching painters, thinkers, and art styles to their descriptions and writing short essays. As I listened in class to the outline of the test, I thought I had it in the bag. I went home and “studied”. I put studied in quotes because at the time I did not understand effective study strategies and did not truly understand anything. The next day rolled around and soon it was time for her class which meant that it was time to take the test. I sat at my desk with my lucky pencil in hand thinking, “How could this test possibly be difficult? I know everything!” Turns out, I, in fact, did not know everything. I left several questions blank and could not figure out others. I sat at my desk crying because I knew that I was not nearly as prepared as I should have been. I turned in my test at the end of the class and went to the bathroom to cry. I was so disappointed in myself that I did not know everything on the test and that it did not go the way I intended. That test was the first “F” I have ever received.
After that test, I was determined to do better. I wanted to work harder and perform better in the class, so I did what any struggling student would do: go to a tutorial and ask MANY questions. I would always show up promptly at 3:10 in Ms. Dewberry’s classroom and ask millions of questions about notes from the day. Despite my hard efforts, I did not improve much on the following tests. I would still break down in the middle of the test because I did not know all of the answers. This pattern continued until one day during a test, Ms. Dewberry put a yellow Post it note on my desk. It read “I want to help you work this out. Come see me during tutorial,” with a smiley face at the end. I followed the sticky note’s instructions and showed up at 3:05 PM in her classroom. That tutorial was a turning point in my academic career here at Donoho. In that tutorial, Ms. Dewberry gave me some advice that I will never forget. She told me that I did not need to be perfect; furthermore, she told me that sometimes you have to meet yourself where you are and be okay with the scores you get whether or not they are perfect.
After that tutorial, AP Euro looked very different for me. Instead of stressing myself out about being perfect, I decided to take the opportunity to understand how I learn and study best. I stopped worrying about getting perfect grades on tests and started appreciating how much I’d learned despite the score. Through AP Euro, I stopped worrying about being perfect and started appreciating where I was after all the work I had put in. AP Euro was a very challenging class for me and most of the time I didn’t always make an “A”, yet I learned the most from that class. I learned to be okay with myself and know that all my hard work did pay off even if it didn’t result in the way I intended it to.