Saturday, July 17, 2010

Guest Post - Dyslexic Professor Duane Smith

This Reader wrote this lovely comment on the last post on the Blog - so with his permission I give you his story as a post so you don't miss it.

After failing the first grade, I was diagnosed with Dyslexia. I failed English in the 10th grade, and algebra a total of five times. By the grace of God, I graduated high school with a 1.9 G.P.A on probation for bad behavior. Following high school, I failed out of three different community colleges. The first class I failed was public speaking. After my third attempt at college, in as many years, I became a car salesman. Selling cars was one of the best learning experiences of my life, however, at the age of 21, I did not posses the discipline to work sixty-plus hours a week for commission. So I quit. Needing to do something, I applied for the Los Angeles Police Department, only to fail the written exam. My father was an LAPD sergeant. A friend of my father had administered and graded the test. Severely humbled and having no other options, I decided to try college a fourth time.

I figured if I was going to be serious about school, I should start by retaking the courses I had failed. During the summer of 1991, I enrolled in a public speaking course at Los Angeles Valley College with Professor Betty Ballew. Professor Ballew not only inspired me to take the class seriously but encouraged me to join the LAVC public speaking team. To this day, I don't know why I agreed to do something extracurricular that was academic...but I did! I joined the LAVC public speaking team, and my life was changed forever. Professor Ballew inspired me to celebrate my strengths, and address my challenges.

I am now a tenured professor of speech at Los Angeles Valley College, where I serve as the Director of the forensics (public speaking team). I am now privileged to regularly participate with and foster countless success stories as I serve the very program that changed my life. On April 15-19th, 2008 the LAVC speech team competed against 74 other community colleges and over 450 of our nation's best speakers and won the Phi Rho Pi national public speaking championship tournament held in St. Charles, Illinois. However, the highlight of the year was a very special student named Marcus Hill. Marcus, a former stutterer, became the most successful competitive speaker in California community college history, as well as, the overall top speaker in the country while at nationals in Illinois. Like my Professor Betty Ballew, I am truly blessed with the privilege of helping students discover their individual strengths while actively negotiating their challenges.

In 1991, a college professor asked me if I was "retarded?". That same year Professor Ballew told me that I had "presence," and asked me to join the speech team. Professor Ballew focused on my strengths, and helped me to acknowledge and confront my challenges.

For several years I have contemplated reaching out to the dyslexic community to share my experiences. If I could encourage others to discover the empowerment that can be discovered by identifying and exploiting one's individual gifts; while at the same time motivating people to address their personal challenges, I would honor the opportunity.

Please forgive any spelling mistakes :)

Sincerely,

Duane Smith
http://www.dyslexicprofessor.blogspot.com

Dear Reader

If you are dyslexic and have a story to tell you are welcome to share it here... post you potential post below and Iw ill will consider it in due time...

Eric Wolf