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Growing up, education and literacy were always encouraged in my household. My studies came first and everything else followed behind. I was taught very early that my education was my sole responsibility. My parents enforced that I would always have help and support, but I needed to help myself first and put forth the effort. I have had many experiences throughout my educational path, and the earliest I can remember was kindergarten.

In kindergarten, we learned the basics of language and literacy. We started to write and began sounding out words and phrases that would be used in our everyday lives. Early on I never struggled with English or literature, and neither did I hate it or love it; it was just English. Back then, and still today, my favorite subjects consisted of math and science. These subjects grabbed my attention more because they were more hands-on. I could relate these subjects and topics to everyday life because they involved problem-solving. As time went on, my neutral relationship with the subject of English soon became a hated relationship just that quickly.

During my early elementary school years, I had terrible grades in different subjects, especially English. I soon found out some things came easy, while others, like English, required more work and effort on my part. It appears I was stuck in place, not knowing what to do, because no matter how hard I tried, I could never receive a decent grade. I would get help and ask questions, but nothing ever seemed to help. My parents were always there to help, but eventually, they began wondering the same thing, why was I constantly receiving bad grades? They began working harder and harder at home and even began working with the school, but something still was not clicking for me. This was my reality until we moved after second grade to a very strong school district. Here, my grades instantly started to improve, and I was getting the help I needed. I quickly went from a C-average student to getting straight A’s and being on the honor roll. That year alone was so exciting for me because it gave me confidence and the willpower to keep trying, even when nothing seems to be going my way. Furthermore, this celebratory moment also caused me to do some reflection. I was receiving the guidance and help I needed, but I noticed my environment played a large role in my literacy problems. My first elementary school was a private school in the City of St. Louis. It was a decent school, but their academics started to decline. Students were not receiving the help and attention that was needed. Talking with others from the school, we soon realized I was not the only student struggling. There was a multitude of students doing their work and showing up every day but receiving bad grades. My grades and scores were not a reflection of me, but a mirror image of my school. Once we moved to one of the strongest school districts in Missouri, my literacy struggles became history. I no longer knew that old me and strived to become better in my subjects every day. I enjoyed reading and writing because it became fun rather than a task just to get a grade.

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My environment and school played a key role in my literacy history, but my parents played a major role. “When I was home, I was expected to be smart; I was expected not to complain” (Pasqualin, 238). They did not allow excuses and whining because anything could be fixed with a little hard work. My parents would sit and read to me and help me work through all my homework step by step. They would come home after a long day of work and sit for hours, encouraging me and pushing me. They are my biggest literary sponsors because without them I would not have received those ‘A’s’. I would not know how to work through a problem or seek help the correct way if my parents were not involved.

As time progressed, my straight-A record followed and carried me into middle school and high school. This is when all my past knowledge needed to come together into one. Everything became harder and more problematic, but I never backed down. I pushed through and got help when needed and kept my straight-A record. However, I soon realized that while I was not struggling in English too much, I began to hate it again. I did not want to read books and I hated writing papers. The subject no longer interested me, and sometimes I would let my attitude affect my work. I would tell myself, “Oh well, who cares; it’s just English, so just do the bare minimum and you will be fine”. This attitude soon reflected in my work and grades because that ‘A’ became a ‘B’, and sometimes a ‘C’. This was one of the lowest points in my literacy history because I allowed my attitude and outlook to affect my work. I understood that in order to succeed in anything you had to work hard, even if you hated it. I started trying harder and going to tutoring and asking questions so I could better myself as a writer, reader, and overall learner.

Today, I am a much stronger writer and student than I was before. I now understand that I need to learn things for a deeper understanding instead of just remembering things for a test. I recently learned about discourse and what it means to be an individual. “A discourse is a sort of ‘identity kit’ which comes complete with the appropriate costume and instructions on how to act, talk and often write, so as to take on a particular role that others will recognize” (Gee, 278). I have learned that everything in life, including literacy, is unique to an individual. No students have the same writing style or learn the exact same way. You must find what works for you and expand upon that style. I believe I have found my style and I incorporate it into all my work. This has allowed me to better myself as a learner and become the best writer I can become. It allows me to express myself in my work, while still doing what is required of me.

The process never became easier, but I have become a stronger writer as a result of the process. I learned how to work through challenges that I may be faced with throughout my educational journey. Most importantly, I learned that nothing comes easy. To become a developed writer, I need practice. To become a better speaker, I need practice. To become the best learner I can be, I need practice. Literacy is the most important thing in my education. If I quit now, I will never be the writer and speaker I am striving to be. Anything can be accomplished if you put your mind to it and have strong support along the way.

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