I teach middle school. It is a pretty interesting level to teach as the students are engaged in a special mixture of trying to fit in and be accepted by their peers while also seeking out personal identity and individuality. The results can be hilarious, painful, and even inspirational.
One particular student I met during my student teaching leaned more toward the individuality side than towards fitting in with her peers. She had her own group of quirky friends—all sweet and lovely kids—but her quirks were her own. Her name was Lindall.
So Lindall was a semi-shy girl at the start of the semester, but she really started to shine about mid way through. She started volunteering in class every day and even lead groups on occasion. Even her clothes went from loud to screaming, though they were quite conservative aside from pattern and color.
One day, as I was grading papers, I came across one of Lindall’s. However, at first I did not realize it because she had written her name in a strange, highly stylized font. The result was that the “L’s” in her name were so distorted, they no longer resembled “L’s”. Instead, they looked like “S’s”.
I analyzed the name for a few moments trying to figure out who Sindass was before it dawned on me. I considered talking to her about what the letters looked like (and that if you said it aloud, it would be–well–try it for yourself), but I decided to ignore it. This was only one paper, and I figured it was a onetime thing.
I should have spoken to her. The next day I found a piece of paper in the floor with her new signature on it. A few days later I noticed that she had written her new, stylized name all over her notebooks and binders. She had even created a sign for her locker.
I pulled her aside in class that day and explained that the “L’s” didn’t look like she thought they did. Realization swept over her face.
The notebook covers were torn off by next class and the binder pasted with stickers. The locker sign was gone before anyone was able to catch on and deface it. Thankfully, I never heard another student picking on her for it or calling her “Sindass”.