Most Likely to Succeed: Ms. Pelmas

By, Sam G.

“Most Likely to Succeed?” is a new column being introduced to the 2018-2019 Panel Backpage. In this column, the Backpage editors interview a highly-respected Winsor faculty member about an embarrassing or difficult time in their life, specifically during their middle school, high school, and early college years. The purpose of “Most Likely to Succeed?” is to teach Winsor’s student body that you do not, in fact, need to be fully formed at the age of 14.

“The main thing to tell seventh, and maybe sixth, through twelfth graders is that it is rough,” Ms. P began. A self-labeled “horrible teenager,” Ms. P described her middle school and high school years as being dominated by her “being at odds with life.” Her middle school was filled with bullying and teasing, and she remembers some very difficult times in which students “[were] just plain mean to each other.”

One of the most difficult moments of Ms. P’s school career occurred in eighth grade, when half of the class had already taken a quiz and the other half had not. In an attempt to catch up the half of the class that had missed the quiz, the teacher placed the president of the eighth grade, a student, in charge of administering the quiz to the rest of the class. “There’s a lot of things to ask about that decision . . .” Ms. P reflected, going on to admit that she has “no idea why [her eighth grade teacher] did that.” The student giving out the test then proceeded to stand up in front of the class. “He read the question, then he read the answer. Then he read the next question, then he read the next answer. And [the students] all just wrote it down!” Looking back, Ms. P described her sense of “outrage” and feeling that justice must be served. Immediately, Ms. P left the room to try and find her teacher and to tell her what was happening. Of course, all of the cheating students got in trouble; however, Ms. P said that “literally, for the next four months, no one talked to me until the end of eighth grade. I was completely banished from all social interactions.”

What makes this instance still so prevalent in her mind, even several years later? It’s not as though Ms. P lost her sense of justice and vowed never to tell the truth again because of this situation, because she said that she “kept making [the] mistake” of telling the truth and getting a disproportionate reaction. But, she noted, telling the truth is never a mistake because she still has her “sense of justice,” which she carries with her most every day.

Ms. P noted that she was, in fact, “naive about what people’s reactions would be” to her telling the truth. Ms. P now understands that not everyone might have the same opinions or ideas as she does; however, she is more willing to face the repercussions of doing what is right.

Additionally, despite what the reaction may be, her values of justice and telling the truth, among others, are what make Ms. P who she is, and she is passionate about standing up for them.