Reflecting On My Childhood Journey Through School

The Writing Prompt
Who was your most influential teacher? Why?

This particular prompt does some weird things to my brain.

In general, I don’t have many memories at all of my younger years and the many teachers I have had through the years blur into those faded memories that I intentionally tried to forget.

I don’t necessarily have a teacher in my life that was the most influential because I didn’t connect with adults in my life in that way when I was younger. I also moved so many times, I switch schools so regularly – bonds and connections were difficult to create let alone maintain.

All the same, there are some teachers that I remember, whether for good or bad, and simply as an exercise to lean into the memories I do have … let’s take a walk down teacher lane.

First Grade, Mrs. Mead

I barely remember what my first grade teacher looks like, my memories of her is more of a dark silhouette in my mind. I remember she wore a lot of dresses and skirts. She also carried a yard stick and as kind as I remember her, she’d not hesitate to smack that thing down on a desk sending a child jumping 10 feet in the air to stop their talking.

My most concrete memory of Mrs. Mead is that we have the same birthday.


Third Grade, Mrs. Caplinger

If I had to pick a teacher in all of my k-12, Mrs. Caplinger was my favorite. She was (in my child’s eyes) an older teacher with short, grey, curly hair. She had the sweetest smile and she always had a hug for all us kids. I remember my desk was near hers and I like that.

It was during this school year that I told my first major lie as a child.

I walked to school one day, not totally uncommon, and I decided to tell my third grade teacher that a man had approached me on my walk. At the time I was being molested so I am certain that played a part in my made up story.

All the same, she jumped in to action and was going to contact police and my dad to ensure my safety. I bet if I had just told her it was my grandfather molesting me and not a strange man following me, she may have been the first person to ever come to my rescue, but I was too afraid so I told her I was lying and accepted the far reaching consequences of the notification she sent when I got home.

Middle School

My middle school years are spread between three schools and two states. I don’t remember very much, in fact, my sixth grade year is a totally blank for me. I struggle to put together the timeline of where I was and what school I was in; that knowledge is at the bottom of the darkest deepest pit of memory loss in my brain. It is such an uncomfortable feeling.

I do remember Ms. Peru in 7th grade though. She was my ELA teacher and she recognized in me a love for writing that no one else saw. In her class I remember two separate writing assignments where we were tasked to write a story.

I wrote a 42 page typed story called the Star Princess and because she was aware of my story’s size and content as I wrote – I remember she gave me extra time to finish the story. I still have the story in my office.

High School

High School was hell for me.

I went to four different high schools in four different states, and one of them I went to twice.

I started my freshman year in California, I moved in the middle of my sophomore year to Illinois, I started my junior year in Kentucky, transferred back to the school in Illinois half way through, and then again to a school in Wisconsin to finish the year. My final year of high school was in Wisconsin and in November right after school started I turned 18 and I signed myself out.

In the summer of 2000, somehow I found the focus, the support, and the motivation to take a refresher course at the local college when I was living in Memphis (story for another time) and I received my GED.



I don’t have much college under my belt.

In my early 20s, I tried to go to school parttime in the evenings; at this point in my life I was a single mother working full time. My first college stint lasted a couple semesters.

I tried again in my later 20’s and almost finished an associates before transferring to the local university, getting in over my head, and leaving again.

Finally in 2016 I enrolled into an accelerated technical program and graduated with a certification and was able to walk the stage in a cap and gown.

It felt like the biggest achievement ever, I had finally finished something!

All This Schooling and No Real Connections

My healing journey began five months before I graduated with my certificate. I was in such crisis mode due to my mental health I almost didn’t finish. I was only finally connecting to myself with awareness, and it was knocking me over from every side.

When I read the prompt initially and thought back over my schooling, I realized I have no connections with any of my teachers through the years. I remember a few of them fondly, and I definitely enjoyed some more than others – but the whole of my schooling through life mirrored the rest of my living.

Get in, get it done, show that I am good enough, but keep myself safe. And safety for me meant no real connection, no vulnerability, no allowing anyone to get too close.

Final Thoughts On My School Journey

I see every day the juxtaposition of my schooling vs that of my two children who connect easier with others. I see them with favorite teachers, I see them mingling and engaging with all the staff in their schools and I feel the weight of my childhood experiences. I lost out on so much living in survival mode from such a young age,

I wish I had found a teacher to connect with. I wish teachers in my youth had been better trained to recognize my behaviors as warning signs to explore further. I wish schools were more safe for disclosure when I was attending.

Sometimes I feel overwhelmed with the unfairness of it all, the permanence of how my childhood affected me.

But I am breaking cycles. I can see it in my children, and that is what I hold on to. This hard work is worth it!!!

On goes the journey

Looking for Ways to Connect With Other Survivors and/or Receive Support as You Heal?

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Hi, I am Shanon

I am a trauma informed, trained, and Certified Peer Support Specialist in the state of Wisconsin. I am also a survivor with years committed to my own trauma healing after being diagnosed with (C) PTSD due to childhood abuse. Additionally, I have a professional and personal history of community facilitation and peer work.

I specialize in helping survivors like you make connections between real time experiences and past trauma wounds, identify and communicate boundaries, create self-care plans that work, navigate big emotions and trauma responses, reparent your inner child, and embody your own self-worth through the healing process with confidence and personal empowerment.

These support groups and 1:1 peer support sessions should not replace professional therapy; they will however provide additional support and information.


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