A Lesson in Learning

(Based on a true story)

Look up the following scriptures: Proverbs 4:7, Proverbs 8:11, Alma 38:11. Which one do you think fits the story best? Write that scripture on the blank lines. _______________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________

Kasey was a good student. She knew this because her kindergarten teacher had moved her from the red reading group to the blue one, the top reading group in the class.

But now Kasey would be starting first grade. What if the work was too hard? What if she wasn’t one of the best students in her class anymore? If there were reading groups in the first grade, Kasey wanted to stay in the top group.

On the first day of school, Miss Nelson handed out a spelling worksheet. “When you’re finished, put your paper in the basket on the counter,” she instructed.

Kasey worked hard. When she stood to hand in her assignment, she beamed. The basket was empty. She was the first student finished! Maybe first grade wouldn’t be so hard after all.

Kasey soon discovered that Miss Nelson’s class did spelling assignments every morning. And for several weeks, Kasey was the first to finish. “I must be the best speller in class,” she told herself.

One day, she noticed her friend Shantelle march over to the counter and plunk her worksheet in the basket. Kasey’s jaw dropped. She wasn’t even half finished with hers! She filled in the rest of the answers quickly and sauntered over to the basket, sliding her assignment under Shantelle’s. Maybe Miss Nelson wouldn’t notice who had finished first.

On Monday it rained. Thunder crashed outside as raindrops drummed on the window. “After we do our spelling, we’ll have morning recess inside,” Miss Nelson announced. “When you finish your assignment, you may go pick out a puzzle or a game from that shelf. Please copy our spelling list for the week.” Miss Nelson pointed to the board. “Then write each word four times.”

Kasey’s wrist ached as she scribbled down the words. Her pencil tip snapped, but she kept writing with the dull end. Her heart thudded. She wrote faster. Finally she blew out a little puff of air as she triumphantly placed her paper in the empty basket. Kasey scurried to the shelf and chose a puzzle of a kitten snoozing in a flowerbed.

Kasey had just found all the corner pieces when she felt someone standing next to her. “Can I help?” Shantelle asked.

Kasey gulped. “Sure.”

Shantelle pulled up a chair and started sorting out the pieces with straight edges. She and Shantelle had spent recess together lots of times, but for some reason today Kasey felt nervous. She had been so busy trying to beat Shantelle lately that she hadn’t taken the time to be very nice to her.

“I saw your spelling assignment,” Shantelle said. “It was kind of messy.” Shantelle seemed surprised—it wasn’t like her friend to be so sloppy.

Kasey’s cheeks burned. She stared down at the puzzle pieces, finishing the puzzle in silence. All day, Kasey worried about what Shantelle had said.

At the end of class, Miss Nelson returned the spelling lists. “Use these to study for the quiz on Friday,” she said. She raised her eyebrows as she handed Kasey her paper. “Please write more neatly next time,” she said. She had circled all the words that were difficult to read. Suddenly Kasey didn’t feel so smart.

Before the bell rang, Kasey pulled out a new sheet of paper and began copying the words from the board again, this time writing as neatly as she could. That way she would know the right way to spell them when she studied the list later. The best student would try to spell the words correctly, she decided, not just copy them quickly.

The next day Kasey didn’t watch the basket while she worked. She looked straight down at her spelling worksheet and thought hard about the questions. She wrote the answers neatly in the blanks. When she finally turned in the assignment, she decided to be honest. She placed it on top of a small stack of papers already waiting there. Miss Nelson smiled at her. Kasey smiled back. She knew in her heart that now she was becoming the best student she could be.


Elder Russell M. Nelson

“Continue your education, wherever you are, whatever your interest and opportunity.” Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “Where Is Wisdom?” Ensign, Nov. 1992, 6.

[illustrations] Illustrations by Brad Teare