Wednesday, March 4, 2015

One Person

 

Her name was Mrs. Allen, I had her as a teacher in both the 3rd & 5th grade. She was one woman who changed my life. When she walked in the room you felt safe. She made you believe that you had value and that you could do anything you set your mind to. You wanted to be a better person around her, it wasn't something she demanded of you, she INSPIRED it from within you.

I can still remember how I felt, I was falling behind in both math and reading. No one really knew why I was struggling so much. I was becoming more depressed and anxious about school and myself. I was afraid that the other kids would tease me, calling me stupid, that I wouldn't be able to keep up. Not only did I not want to look bad in front of my classmates, I was worried that I was stupid. Why when I sat down to read would be so difficult figuring out what was in front of my eyes? The page often looked like a jumbled mess. It gave me a headache trying to decipher even simple words. I couldn't figure out why when I would do my math assignment the numbers would often not come out the same from time to time. 

Most teachers thought that the inconsistency was because that I wasn't doing my homework, couldn't pay attention or that I just wasn't that bright. But not Mrs. Allen, she believed in me and wasn't afraid of telling me so.

I still remember one fateful day when she saw me in tears. Me, a 7 year old boy crying in frustration as I looked at my math assignment that I had been working on for the entire period. Even when everyone else had long since finished their assignment and moved on I hadn't gotten past the second problem.

"What's wrong Craig?" She said with a caring voice.

I tried to respond, but nothing came out except tears. I was so frustrated and embarrassed that I couldn't figure out the problems. Everyone else in class was done and working on other things, not me, I was at my wits end again, trying to make sense of it all. 

I remember her calming me down and whispering in my ear that it was alright and I wasn't stupid. She helped me save face in front of my classmates. She also said that she thought she knew what was going on. She ended up sending me home that day and scheduled an appointment to talk with my parents.

Why? 

Because of Mrs. Allen's caring persistence as a teacher and protector, she believed that there was something wrong with what was going on with me. So, rather than just figuring that I wasn't the sharpest tool in the shed, or believing that I was lying about doing my homework, she did some research and pushed through a lot of red tape to look at the issue differently. After talking to my folks, she arranged for a specialist come in and run me through some tests. Later that week I was diagnosed with dyslexia and was part of a test group for a new type of program that would hopefully treat the disability without the use of medication (which at the time had a lot of side effects and was limited in its effectiveness). The program worked incredibly well and put me back on track with school and life. I am eternally grateful for her belief in me, her ethic as a protector and teacher and her unwillingness to give up and take the easy way out.

We often under estimate the little things that can change many things. You see it only takes ONE PERSON to make a huge difference. Sometimes it's just one smile, one act of kindness, one person stepping up, to change the world, one person, one relationship at a time. It doesn't have to be someone famous, as a matter of fact each of us has our own story of someone who was kind to us, who gave us a chance, who believed in us, who stood by us, helped us, taught us, helped us to see ourselves and our world differently. 

What will your contribution be? How will you pay it forward?

 Keep going,
~Craig

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