Mallory Baskin

Web Developer and Ghost Writer
Mallory Baskin

Lessons Learned in the Private School System

I grew up in the private school system from grades 1–9. My entire grade was never over 40 people and we knew everyone in our grade, the one above us and the one below. Allow me to educate you.

There Are Levels To Private Schooling

I went to a redneck private school. It was in rural South Carolina. The guys drove jacked-up trucks and we had a camouflage day for spirit week. We thought we were elite because we went to a private school but tried to be backwoods because it was cool. We failed at both.

Do not let a private school upbringing fool you into thinking there were any sort of manners taught. Do not let a private school education convince you that you are better than anyone.

Quality of Education Always Depends on The Teachers

My school was tiny and poor for a private school. We had no technology classes, severely limited language classes, and sometimes 2 teachers ran the entire science department for the high school. But our English teachers were on point. They had us cranking out papers like machines. No computers for writing research papers, better bust out that encyclopedia Britannica. Our exams were blue books. Remember those? Where you got one question and 2 hours and it was like a notebook with a blue cover and you wrote until your hand went numb then you would shake it out and keep going because your passing the class depended on it?

I went back to that same high school as a teacher after college. Those English teachers were no longer there, having retired. I couldn’t get kids to write 500 words on topics of their choice using a keyboard. They didn’t know how to write an essay let alone research one.

Same school. Same rules. Same methods. Same “values”. Different teachers. They don’t get enough credit.

Family Matters

That cliche from movies is true even in tiny redneck private schools. The big-name families with the money and the political ties make the rules. We knew who ran the place and they weren’t about to let us forget it. It influenced everything from who played on the team, to who made homecoming court, to who got marks on their permanent record, and even to who graduated top of the class. It happened.

Sometimes it sucks. But crying over the injustice of it all did nothing. Learn to work in the system and move on.

There Is No Such Thing As Secrets

In a tiny school, everyone knows everyone else’s business. You don’t even have to be a gossip. That mess just flows down the hallways and you run smack into it while minding your own business, not looking for any drama. Trying to keep a secret was not possible. Not was hard, not was difficult, was impossible.

You learned to fess up quick. Your teachers knew your parents to the point of having their cell numbers and making small talk at church. Your dad knew before he even got home that you got a detention. Better hope you told him soon as he walked in the door.

Learn to expect everyone to know everything and act like everything you do will reach exactly who you don’t want to know.

Sometimes The System Makes You Work Extra Hard. For Kicks And Giggles.

My mom was my chemistry teacher. There was only one in the school so she had to teach me. I am very science-minded. Up until this point throughout my school career, I had been the top student in science in my grade every year. The year before another teacher had taught their own child. They were not known for being partially gifted at science yet that year they grabbed the top spot for their grade. Of course, rumors went around that it was fixed.

There was a lot of anger toward teachers’ kids and about how teachers were helping their kids cheat. My mom was having no part in it. She started from the very beginning of that year saying that everyone would be graded fairly including me, then she proceeded to round everyone’s grades up to the nearest point which is standard. Except mine.

Mine she rounded down. I was pissed. She told me that just meant I had to work harder and then when I won she could prove it wasn’t because of cheating. I was still pissed. But now I understand that sometimes the system isn’t going to play fair with you and sometimes you have to work harder for what you want. I ended up getting second in science. By 4 tenths of a point.

Learn to grind it out. The world and system can be against you sometimes and make you work harder despite it being unfair. Accept it as a challenge and work through it.

Proximity Can Create Friendship

In high school, 99% of your friends are only your friends because you see each other every day. You don’t like each other as much as you think you do. You don’t share the same values or dreams or drive for improvement. If you sat down and made conscious decisions about the people you wanted to let into your life many of the people close to you wouldn’t be on that list. They snuck in because they were physically close by. This can happen with friends and with dating.

Do not let whoever is close and convenient dictate the type and caliber of people you associate with. Proximity doesn’t mean you should settle.

The World Exists Outside of All You Know

When I was in high school I couldn’t imagine having friends outside of the people I already had. I stayed with the same people from 1–9 grade. We were so close there wasn’t anything left to learn. And most of us didn’t like each other. I was worried I would never have friends. But the world is so much bigger than your high school. Than your home town. Than your home state. It is bigger than what everyone around you believes.

Do not limit your view to all you can see now. Everything will change. You will grow and you will get out of the tiny bubble that exists. The world gets so much bigger after high school.


Thanks for reading Y’all