When I received my first graded paper back from Dr. Brady, I wasn’t at all prepared for it. I had been accustomed to teachers patting me on the back and handing me good grades throughout most of my school career. I didn’t think twice about it anymore.

So it came as quite a surprise when Dr. Brady handed me back what I thought was a perfectly acceptable paper now practically dripping with red ink.

Such a loud color is quite a shock to the system. It makes a girl think.

And the thing is, she somehow knew I needed a dose of her complete honesty with that paper. Yes, the truth can be painful, but sometimes it’s just what you need to hear to get your act together. Dr. Brady’s honesty in class may have felt a little like a slap on the face at times, but her words certainly made me sit up and try harder.

Dr. Brady’s words of wisdom directed at me:

– “What on earth are you wearing? That’s quite a statement. I could never go out in public wearing sweatpants. If I were wearing that, I’d go to sleep.”

– “It seems that your last English teacher taught you nothing at all. You need to go back to English 101.”

– “This is probably the worst grade you’ve ever gotten, isn’t it? Well, you’ll get over it.”

– “WRONG!!!”

Maybe I wanted to crawl up in a hole and hide after a couple of these, but I bounced back and tried to learn from them. At the very least, I never go out in public wearing sweatpants anymore.

And the great thing about being 100 percent truthful is that if Dr. Brady gave you a compliment, you knew you earned it. Sure, maybe you had to drink nasty Mountain Dew to pull an all-nighter in order to turn in a paper, but proving to yourself that you could rock that paper always seemed worth it.

Dr. Brady’s more encouraging words of wisdom directed at me:

– “Lots of red ink means there’s at least hope for a paper. If there’s no hope, there’s no red ink.”

– “You see? It gets better.” (after giving me a paper with an improved grade from the last one)

Dr. Brady helped me realize that I had been a slacker all my life and not realized it. She wanted more from me than a simple recitation of notes to prove I could write down what she said. She wanted me to think.

I still fail at things often, but after hearing someone yell, “WRONG!” at me and survive, it doesn’t seem so bad to mess up anymore. I can’t be practically perfect like Mary Poppins, but I can give it my best and know that my level of effort is the one thing that I can control.

Dr. Brady, thanks for always telling the truth. I needed it.


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