* I edited some personal information out of these documents.
I honestly don't remember much about my first grade teacher, Mrs. Gill. However, there is one thing I tell friends and family about what I remember to this day. She's the one who started calling me Katelyn. Prior to that, I went by Katie. Because there was another Katie M. in my class, I would be referred to as Katelyn until the middle of my college years, when I asked people to instead call me by a name I didn't hate.
I'm sure Mrs. Gill didn't mean any harm by inadvertently changing my name for 15 years; she was just trying to lessen confusion in her class. But I remember being 6 years old, sitting in the backseat of my mom's car as she was driving, being told my name wasn't actually Katie. I couldn't stop crying.
But that's what I went by for years and years, mostly out of habit, familiarity.
Anyway, that's what struck out to me in these photos and papers most. "Katelyn" was everywhere. But even on my coloring book page, I signed it off "Katie".
Then in college, I told an internship supervisor about how much I loathed my name, and about my first grade teacher changing it.
"Then why not go by something else?" she told me.
I've been going by Kate ever since.
I think that I learned an important life lesson there. If there's something in your life you don't like, change it. Complaining is OK sometimes, but how far will that really get you? Of course, not everything is as easy as changing a name. But life is too short to tolerate things you don't like, especially if it's something you deal with on a daily basis. Seriously. I think I need to remind myself of that sometimes.
The name Kate just feels more like me, as weird as that sounds. It feels more informal, more personable somehow.
Anyway, it's hard to believe that all of these mementos are from 20 years ago. I was struck by the pristine condition my mom kept all of these old papers in, without wrinkles or fading. And that she shot photos of me drawing a coloring book page that she ended up keeping of of these years.
Now that education and K-12 schools are kind of tangent to what I do at my job, it was really cool to come across these photos from yesteryear, even with the silly memories. What are some of your favorite back to school memories?