“We are the result of many peoples’ efforts throughout our life”
By PDG Will Beckman
This last week I was asked and honored to speak at a family friends funeral – recognizing her efforts in helping others. Polly Ishmael Sandlin was this person as well as the granddaughter of famed surgeon Earl McBride of the McBride Clinics statewide. Dr. McBride was the surgeon who operated on my own father for his football injury there.
In life I’ve learned that we are the sum result of many persons efforts as well as our own. This story starts with a 7-grade young boy who was having tremendous difficulty with studies and regular speaking. His parents took this child to the county health physicist who tested him – and discovered he was reading at a 3-4 grade level and had a severe speech impediment. The expert also tested the boys IQ and determined it was high and suggested his parents hire an outside speech therapist and the enroll him in a special education class for his reading disabilities. His parents also enrolled the boy in beginner’s speech class as well.
Every day the boy would go to this reading class then read a story and take a test. In addition, this boy would go to his private speech tutor 2 days a week working on correcting his severe speech impediments. Read a story then take a test, then as the year rolled on he would read a story and take a test a day or two later. In the speech class the boy would work on standard speaking skills – with his speech teacher later recommending he enroll in taking a
debate class as well. The boy remembers being teased much of his youth for his speech impediments but worked hard to overcome these careers ending type obstacles. Read a story and taking a test was now being separated by a week, then two. Working on comprehension and retention in addition to his reading skills.
That young boy went on to specialize in debate in high school and would forever remember those teachers with whom he had worked so hard with to overcome his handicaps. Thelma Eubanks Johnson was the reading teacher, Mary Alice Baker was the speech and debate teacher, and Poly Ishmael Sandlin was the private speech therapist. The young boy would finish his seventh-grade year being able to begin speaking clearly in regular conversations, putting together sentences for verbal oratory in his speech and debate classes, and then testing at reading at junior college level student. By his senior year in high school this young man was able to become the outstanding debater graduate on the state championship team.
Principal Thelma Eubanks Johnson would later ask this now young businessman to come back to her high school to deliver the schools commencement address. What an honor he thought!
Then, I remember Ms. Johnson introducing me as one of her favorite students of all time. For it was she and others that provided me with the tools I have today. I was that child she helped. This backward-learning child learned just how much we aren’t always self-made – but are rather the result of many peoples’ efforts!
I challenge each and every one of you Rotarians to thank and remember those teachers and instructors that made a difference in your lives! We are all truly blessed to be surrounded by such caring persons and teachers growing up!