March 7, 2016 | by admin |
 My students inspired me to tell stories, but I was really trying to convince them they had stories to tell too.  I’ll never forget the day this young lady was brave enough to get up in front of the class and tell her story.  You could have heard a pin drop. The dynamics in my class seemed to change that day, as a feeling of understanding and acceptance for each other grew.

Crossroads in Life
By: Ashlie Bolinger, Age 19
How often do you hear someone say if that horrible thing hadn’t happened to me I wouldn’t be where I am today? Honestly not often enough. The world we live in expects things to be perfect and reality has become like that of photo shop. You can’t just edit out life events and have a realistic outcome. I have met many people who have had it worse than I have but my life has become that of a success story statistically speaking. I have many people to thank for my life being great now but it wasn’t always this pleasant.
I went in to foster care at age seven after being removed from my mothers care. My two younger siblings were taken in my our paternal aunt but because she couldn’t handle all three of us I went to the system. Along the way I had some amazing foster families and others not so great but I learned a lesson in each and every one. I hadn’t lived in a foster home for more than nine months until I was ten years old. I always wished to be able to be the right fit for a home and then I found one that I felt like I was part of the family. I wasn’t just a foster child I was family. I lived in this home from the beginning of fifth grade through the beginning of eighth grade.
Along this time I met an amazing women. A woman I still look up to and will always look up to. A woman that pushed me and made me believe in myself by the way she believed in me. Her name is Ms. Deanna Scelzo, my seventh grade teacher and basketball coach. I can’t even honestly call her just a teacher because she is an inspiration, a mentor, and so much more. I can’t even explain some of the stories she would tell is just to help us understand parts of our mandatory curriculum but I can say she told them well. I do remember having a break down one day and I looked at Ms. Scelzo and said “I can’t do it it’s impossible for someone like me to achieve much else. I’m not meant to be.” I remember her sitting down and telling me “ You know I don’t sugar coat things so I’m about to tell you like it is. You are only as good as you are yourself. I see an amazing young lady not a girl in foster care. You can do everything anyone else can do… actually you can do more because you inspire people.” Those words hit every nerve in my body and as I type this I am starting to get because these words still hit me hard. If there is one person that didn’t foster me but made a huge impact on my life Ms. Deanna Scelzo would be on top of my very short list.
I remember telling Ms. Scelzo that there are so many foster kids that come into the system with nothing but the clothes on their backs and I wanted to find a way to give something back. So she and three other students helped me put together a fundraiser for hygiene products and school supplies for the kids that didn’t have any when they came in to system. We raised boxes and boxes of items for these kids. And I can honestly say I think of all the smiles that we created often. Of all the days filled with laughter and stories in that seventh grade year I will never forget the day the fundraiser was over and the success we all felt as a class.
Now at age nineteen I am a high school graduate, a mom, an online college student working towards my bachelors degree in Elementary education, a wife and a success. I’m not perfect but neither is anyone else. I can honestly look back and say if not for me going in to the foster care I wouldn’t have met Ms. Scelzo, I wouldn’t have met my husband, I wouldn’t be a mom, and I wouldn’t be the woman that I am. I am grateful to be able to say I have lived a touch life and I’m still standing. I’ve had my share of being knocked down but I have managed to get up and make something out of myself. I greatly look forward to the next chapter in my life no matter what it may be.
I’m thankful to be able to say I came into contact with a woman named Ms. Deanna Scelzo. I know I’m not the only student that this woman has positively influenced but I can say I am still so very grateful that I got to spend a year being taught by someone so amazing. I hope hearing just a little part of my story will tell you how much of an impact a woman like Ms. Scelzo can make on a student not for just a year but a lifetime. I’m honored to be able to write this and have an opportunity to read a book written by not just a teacher but an inspiration.

I’ve had the opportunity to work with and know so many amazing students.  It’s amazing to hear from them after they are all grown up and pursuing their own dreams, especially when they tell you it was you who inspired them!

A Trip Down Memory Lane By Anastasia Smith-Davis, age 20

My time spent in Mrs. Scelzo’s 7th grade class had to be one of the greatest years in school I have experienced thus far. My relationship with Mrs. Scelzo was more than just the normal “teacher-student” relationship, we shared a close bond that we built through Volleyball and class conversations. Story time was the absolute highlight of my day,  Mrs. Scelzo would tell stories from different stages in her life; one of the stories that I have the most recognition of is when she lost her fiance. Even at the age of thirteen I felt this tug in my heart for her lost, but when she explained the love she found in her husband, I learned that true love will always find you. The other was when she was caught in a tornado. Her way of telling a story was absolutely phenomenal! I felt like I could feel her truck shaking and lifting off the ground.

I was introduced to my favorite book, The Skin I’m In by Sharon Flake. At the time I was able to identify with the main character, Maleeka. I never knew if Mrs. Scelzo understood how much of an impact this book had on my life.

Recently I decided to change my major to education, in my teaching courses we are often asked to think about who was our favorite teacher and why. Without even thinking about it I wrote down D. Scelzo, and began to write down how she made me feel as a student, as a young teenager, as a daughter. I realized that the love I felt from Mrs. Scelzo was the same love I wanted to pass down to my students as a teacher.

One last memory, one day I came up with this plan to prank Mrs. Scelzo. The plan was to get her to believe that I had been experiencing abuse at home. This was a terrible thing to do, but at the moment I thought it would be hilarious. When  I told Mrs. Scelzo that my father had struck she began to cry, and promised me that she would keep me safe and although I knew I was telling a fib, I believed her words, I felt her love and knew she would protect me. Ever since that very moment I knew that she would forever hold a spot in my heart.