Encouragement Can Be Life Changing

000_6910RetouchIt’s the best day of my life. I’m seventeen years old. It’s English literature class and the papers have just been graded. The assignment: to write an essay using irony based on Judy Brady’s famous essay ‘I Want a Wife.’

I’m an average student at best and having been diagnosed with dyslexia at the age of five you can probably guess that not much in the way of scholastic encouragement comes my way. It’s quite the opposite really. Several of my teachers predict my future; dismal failure or mediocrity at best. It doesn’t help that I’ve rebelled again them, seeking accolades from my peers by swearing, using drugs, drinking, and engaging in reckless behavior.

The day starts like every other. I arrive to class dressed to the nines, stoned, with a chip on my shoulder. The teacher announces he’s graded our essays and would like to read one to the class. I yawn and settle back in my seat waiting for him to share a dissertation written by the straight ‘A’ student sitting next to me.

At first I’m disoriented as I hear him begin reading my words. Then comes shock and embarrassment; and finally, complete elation. Once he’s finished he walks over to my desk (in front of the whole class) and hands me my paper. Grade: A+. Comments: “She can write.”

Those that know of my scholastic difficulties (remedial math class and failed science tests) have a dazed look on their faces as if the valedictorian or a genius student has somehow incarnated in my body and taken over my mind.

Its 24 years later and I can still say; “That was the best day of my life.”
What’s so interesting is that my grades began to improve after that. And although I never had a chance to tell him, that teacher changed my life.

It had nothing to do with my intellect and everything to do with what I thought about myself. Don’t ever let anyone tell you you’re dumb.

Jodie Stevens

(Proverbs 25:12: Anxiety weighs down the heart down, but a kind word cheers it up.)

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