By Jennifer McGraw

OAKDALE (CBS13) — A mom was outraged after her child came home from career day at school with her dreams dashed.

“I’m 9 years old, and I’m in the fourth grade,” said Hannah Turpin.

She, like most kids, has big dreams.

“I want to be an Olympic gymnast because when you do cartwheels and stuff it just makes you feel like you’re flying,” she said.

So, on College Career Day at Cloverland Elementary, she suited up and practically flipped to class.

“One person said they wanted to be president; someone else had said they wanted to be in agriculture, an artist,” she said.

But when it was Hannah’s turn to stand and tell the class what she was, it wasn’t well received.

“I had said to my teacher I want to be an Olympic gymnast and my teacher said, ‘Well that’s not a career. A career is a job you get paid for,'” she said.

“This really hurt me to hear that someone would squish my kid’s dream like this,” her mother Ozra Turpin said.

So Ozra asked the teacher what happened.

“She said, ‘Well, if Hannah had paid attention, it happened to be career and college day, she chose to come in as an Olympic gymnast, and that’s not a career,'” Ozra said.

They were hard words to hear, especially for this 9-year-old.

“I was sad because you know, she just said no really. It feels like she said no,” Hannah said.

But the fourth-grader felt like Olympians would disagree, so she posted to her mom’s social media:

Hi my name is Hannah I’m in the 4th grade, and I’m 9. This is my mom and dad’s page I’m not old enough to have one yet. I wanted to ask if you could help me out. I had career and college day at school, and I dressed up as my dream to be an Olympic gymnast. My teacher said it’s not a career. She made me so sad when she told me this. Can you please help to bring the USA team to my class to tell my teacher it is a career. She doesn’t believe me.
Thank you,

“Somebody had actually contacted me,” Hannah said.

It was USA Olympian Kendall Wesenberg from nearby Modesto.

“She had said that people are going to tell you ‘You can’t’ over and over, but then she said, ‘Just believe in yourself and work hard on your dream,” she said.

Hannah believed right then that anything’s possible.

“It’s kind of a dream come true,” she smiled, thinking about the words of encouragement from an Olympian.

So as it turns out, dreams can come true. And while by definition to some being an Olympian may not be a career, Ozra hopes all kids continue to dream big and go for the gold.

CBS13 attempted to contact the school multiple times as well as the district. On the last attempt, the principal answered his cell phone, and after hearing it was the news, he immediately hung up.

  1. John Webster says:

    Wow! Nine year olds are asked to imagine their future participation in jobs and careers. I would think that any serious reply from a nine year old should get some credit. One dictionary definition, “a profession, occupation, job, vocation, calling, employment, line, line of work, walk of life” does not include the subject of pay but rather the opportunity for growth over time.” Maybe Hannah Turpin has the “calling” to be an Olympic gymnast. Parents and teachers can help kids develop more of their full potential by not stressing job status and pay. Growing into a kind, caring, industrious, empathetic, self-controlled teenager and adult requires requires developing other virtues.

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