Nancy and Jeanne: Alike . . . But Different


Jeanne hates P.E. and avoids it at all costs.
Nancy boards the bus with a smile.


Jeanne walks into the gym
and finds the nearest corner to hide in.
Nancy walks in, surveys the scene,
then finds herself a comfortable spot along the edge.


Jeanne hates touching the dirty, rough, grimy balls.
Nancy doesn’t mind playing . . . once she’s good and ready.

Jeanne makes sure she stays in at recess when Red Rover or Dodge Ball is played.
Nancy is willing to play Dodge Ball,
but she sees no need to run the bases like they told her to.

Jeanne is your classic over achiever.
But our Nancy? Not so much.
You’ll notice how she throws the ball
away from her teacher – at least initially,
indicating a complete lack of concern for such dreaded things
as grades or (coveted) distinctions as teacher’s pet.


People clamor all over each other for a chance
to hurl the hard, gritty balls at Jeanne
who just curls herself up into a small knot
and vows “never again”
while the teacher rides around the gym on her golf cart,
yelling belittling motivational phrases through the bullhorn.
Nancy’s student teacher doubles as an angel,
patiently staying with her, then
using his body to shield her from incoming balls.



On the rare occasion she actually went to P.E. (which was never),
Jeanne was graded on her performance (or lack thereof)
as compared to others in the herd.
Nancy worked one-on-one with Michael Jones
(a student teacher in the Bethune-Cookman College class
called Adaptive Physical Education
conjured and taught by Timothy Mirtz).
Michael took the assignment from his professor
along with the information he’s learned in the classroom
and adapted it to fit Nancy’s special and unique needs.

I love the word “adaptive”, don’t you?
When I’m queen, it’ll be the first word in every course title
because let’s face it,
one thing Jeanne and Nancy do have in common:
we both . . . we all . . . have unique, special needs,
some are just more obvious than others.


P.S.: Tim asked me to say a few words to the students at the end of the class. I led by telling them how I found their trash talking impressive. It was impressive . . . and not just because of the intensity or steady stream of the trash talk. See, the thing is, with the trash talking, the student teachers treated these special students like “normal” folk, and trust me: this very important act didn’t go unnoticed by anybody in that gym. They may not have noticed it consciously or given words to it, but they noticed. Oh yes, they noticed.

1 Comment

  1. Lana Angel

    I am so touched by this – your words and the images. Simply lovely.

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