St. Louis, MO – As students across the country file back into classrooms to kick off the new school year, many brace for what could be an old-fashioned ‘butchering’ of their names during the first roll call.
No exception to this long-standing tradition is seventh-grade Pre-Alegebra teacher Ms. Karen Lightfoot. Ms. Lightfoot is a ten-year instructor at Hidden Oaks Intermediate School, and has self admittedly never traveled out of the state.
“Maar-tarzan Soodekee,” she calls out with a painful squint, as she reads down the list of 16 students in her second period class. Her gaze shifts from her clipboard to scan the room searching for confirmation of attendance. Her eyes land on the far corner of the class where the only South Asian student sits.
“Did I say that right?” she asks with a mistaken sense of accomplishment.
“It’s actually Murtuza Siddiqui,” says the eleven-year old brown skinned kid who starts to blush in embarrassment, but can only turn purple.
“Oh, that’s very nice,” responds the tenured teacher. “Is there a nickname I can use? I don’t want to sprain my tongue.”
Siddiqui doesn’t have a nickname.
Siddiqui is one of hundreds of thousands of kids who will have their name bastardized this morning. However, many of these students have become conditioned to what has seemingly become a frequent occurrence and a stapled experience in the educational process.
“I knew Ms. Lightfoot was going to call my name when her eyes got all wide,” said Siddiqui as he slid both arms into his backpack. “She’ll forget by tomorrow, and I’ll have to correct her again. I usually give up by the third day, and then settle for some lesser messed-up version of my name.”
Lightfoot has managed to mispronounce the last name of ‘Siddiqui’ consistently for the past ten years.
Her memorable blunders have included ‘Suzuki,’ ‘Sickdicky’ and ‘Saddam Hussein.’
Lightfoot rejected the idea of taking a series of multi-cultural sensitivity classes, noting her schedule can’t accommodate the extra load.
“This district’s demographics are changing quickly,” says Lightfoot. “But apparently our paychecks aren’t, so… there’s your answer.”
Meanwhile, Murtuza Siddiqui went on to third period, where his Physical Education Coach called him ‘Monster Slacky.’