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Sarah Agner

Sarah Agner Ms. Fuentes English 1101-9 9-13-2013

Born Illiterate
I was born an illiterate child. Finding that unacceptable, my parents began to change that situation while I was still an infant by speaking to me as if I was an adult and enrolling me in preschool at the age of 8 weeks. As the years went by and I continued my education at a five star child development center, then elementary, middle and high school, I had several wonderful teachers that taught me reading and writing skills. I am currently attending the University of North Carolina at Charlotte where I will polish my reading and writing skills even more. Having strong literacy skills will enable me to be a successful adult with a rewarding career. So, let me share with you my path to literacy. At a very young age my mother began to read to me. Even before I could understand books, she would sit me on her lap and flip through the pages in a picture book. I was mesmerized by the alliterations of Dr. Seuss and the cuteness of Curious George. At that time words were just meaningless symbols on a page to me. Trying to make sense on these foreign objects seemed like an impossible task. Although my mother patiently sounded out the words in hopes that I would catch on, I remained a reluctant reader until I found the motivation that I needed in Cherokee, North Carolina. It was in Cherokee where I learned to read and spell my first word, fudge. To celebrate my ability to read this simple one-syllable word, my grandmother bought me a pound of Rocky Road! From then on I realized that reading was not so bad after all, and I quickly began to pick up on more words.
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Sarah Agner

Tailypo and The Spooky Old Tree were my favorite bedtime stories as a toddler. I insisted that they be read to me every night. Even though I knew what the end result of these scary stories would be, I would get excited as I followed along with my mothers reading. After lots of repetition I soon found that I was able to read these books on my own! Although these were only simple childrens books, this marked a major milestone in my literacy development. When I was five years old I began kindergarten at Morgan Elementary School. Every day when I would walk into Mrs. Prices class I would go to my station and print my name along with that days spelling word. Simple words such as I, me, my, an, etcetera would make up our spelling list. To encourage us to use what knowledge we had of phonetics, Mrs. Price also allowed us to use creative spelling. It was in this class that I learned how to make up and write out complete sentences. One of my favorite stories that I wrote that year was about If I wer a cut bune, I wud hav a babe bune and pla with her. I earned a score of satisfactory on my report card that year. Throughout my elementary school year career my teachers continued to develop my basic reading and writing skills. Weekly reading, writing, and spelling tests gave me the constant repetition I needed to eventually become a successful writer. At this point in my schooling I was only writing short stories. I found myself writing a lot about the activities I would do outside of school. My grandpas farm and swimming were both very popular subjects. I once wrote an autobiography that began with I am just a normal farm girl even though I did not live on a farm. I certainly enjoyed using my artistic license!

Sarah Agner

Mrs. Austin was perhaps my most influential elementary school teacher. My fourth grade year was the year of the dreadful writing test. The writing test was scored on a twenty point scale; twenty being the best, one being the worst. Going into Mrs. Austins class my writing was rated at a disappointing eight. Everyday my teacher worked with me on creative writing skills. Having a very vivid imagination, I had no problem coming up with entertaining stories! Mrs. Austin taught me how to organize my thoughts and put them on paper. The use of sparkle words to spice up my paper, and transition words were strongly encouraged in this class. At the end of the year when the writing test came around, I wrote about finding a giant tree with a door in it. Inside of this tree was the most unbelievable roller coaster that a fourth graders mind could possibly imagine! My writing test was scored at an 18. To this day I still give credit to Mrs. Austin for teaching me how to write. Elementary school to middle school was a big transition for me. Not only was there a lot more people, but the material we were learning changed significantly. In just one small year we went from reading books as a class to reading books on our own. The creative writing style that I had perfected in the fourth grade no longer mattered. Middle school introduced me to the new challenge of report writing. Starting in the sixth grade I began researching topics and writing papers on them. My writing was no longer imaginative but based on facts. Writing was no longer fun for me. I found the research and technical writing tedious. Using definitions and nonfictional style to write about different countries, body systems, planets, and books challenged me. To maintain some level of motivation, I used my creative urges to make

Sarah Agner

magnificent covers for my reports. Craft foam and plastic wrap made an awesome waterfall for the cover of my report on Venezuela! When I reached the seventh grade my English teacher used writing as a form of punishment. I, being a well behaved child, remained unconcerned about this. However one day I tested the rules and got caught chewing gum in class. I was sentenced to write a paper during silent lunch on the word mastication, the process of chewing. I soon found out how important vocabulary was after this assignment. The next day I walked into my class with the corrected paper on my desk. Everywhere where the intended word of mastication was supposed to be, I mistakenly wrote masturbation. When I looked up the misused word I was immediately humiliated! To this day, this honest mistake haunts me, and I vowed to never do that to myself again! I have since worked hard to develop a strong vocabulary and I know not to use words with which I am not familiar. At the end of every year in middle school my teachers would send home a writing portfolio. Throughout those three years at Erwin my writing skills made huge improvements. By the end of my eighth grade year I held the ability to read any given article and write a thoughtful, factual paper on it. Little did I know the rules would change again in high school. Mrs. Abramson, my freshman year English I teacher, taught me that writing could be fun again! She required everyone to bring a journal to class and every day we would have twenty minutes to write about whatever we wanted. At first I found it difficult to write for a full twenty minutes. As the semester went on I found myself writing in my

Sarah Agner

journal in my own free time out of school. Journaling became an outlet for me. All of my thoughts and dreams went into my journal. In one semester I filled three composition notebooks up with my writing. At the time I did not realize what I was doing was significant, but now I realize that I will always have those thoughts and memories. The words I wrote down in and out of Mrs. Abramsons class will never fade away and one day I will cherish those notebooks. Since then, I have enjoyed English class and I do not fear writing assignments. During my sophomore year I learned argumentative writing skills. Using facts to support opinions to persuade others to believe as I do was yet another style of writing I added to my skill set. That year, I had another state wide writing test. The prompt was to write a five paragraph essay on how I would improve our school system if I could. I chose to write about how school clubs should meet before school rather than after so they do not interfere with sports practices and events. I experienced this conflict while I was in school and I formed strong opinions about the situation. I believe since I struggled with that conflict myself, I was able to write a strong paper with several supporting details. The icing on top of all my reading and writing experiences took place in room 117 of East Rowan High School my junior and senior years. My junior year I began to write my eight page senior paper on the disparity of drowning rates between different races of children. My teacher, Mrs. Lohmeyer, had me writing a few paragraphs every week to turn in. The first section of my paper I turned in I felt very confident about until I received the revised version from my teacher. All I saw was red ink. I quickly learned how to not use linking verbs or conjunctions when I write. This made me slow down and think
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Sarah Agner

about what I was putting on paper. At the end of the semester my eight page senior paper sparkled. I scored a 100 on the final paper and an A in the class. Mrs. Lohmeyer taught me more in four months than a lot of high school students learn in four years. My papers from then on have flowed more smoothly. I continued through my English IV class with Mrs. Lohmeyer. My senior year we concentrated on the product portion of our senior project. I wrote my paper on The Make A Splash Foundation which is an organization that teaches underprivileged children how to swim for free! For my product I chose to give free swim lessons to children in my community. Giving the swim lessons was simple and fun. The challenge came when it was time to present my project. Every student in Rowan County has to present their senior project orally to judges in order to graduate. The presentation must be ten minutes long and include visual aids. The first time I presented my project to my class, I struggled. My presentation only lasted about seven minutes and I found myself using filler words such as um several times. My first score I received was not desirable and I felt very discouraged. I did not realize how important public speaking skills were to have until this point. As the semester went on, I was allowed to practice several more times, bettering my grade with each attempt. When the day came for me to present in front of the judges, I felt very prepared. My presentation lasted ten minutes and eleven seconds and I didnt use um a single time. Mrs. Lohmeyer helped me earn a perfect score on my graduation project. Having the ability to read and write will always remain important but having the ability to speak clearly and professionally in front of others is a life skill many people lack. I will be grateful for what Mrs. Lohmeyer taught me.
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Sarah Agner

Even though I have made tremendous strides in gaining literacy skills, I recognize the fact that there is still more for me to learn. My parents remain grammar cops and correct me routinely when I say such things as My friend and me .. or She is faster than me . Every year I get new English teachers that have different styles of writing. I experiment with their ideas and adapt them into my own style. Challenges present in other areas as well such as lab reports for chemistry, essays in history exams and entrance exams for colleges. If I pursue a degree in marketing, in the future I will likely need my writing skills for job proposals, budget planning and persuading customers to purchase products. It is fascinating how literacy develops over a lifetime. I hope that I remain open to learning and growing in this area to become a successful professional and be respected by my peers.