Learning SAVED my life. Growing up in a small town afforded me the privilege of having small classes and almost individualized learning. The elementary classroom teachers had their own library, which we could easily utilize. Unfortunately, I usually finished off their books before the Winter Holidays and scrounged to find books to read for the rest of the year. From there we went to a county 6-year school where I discovered a heavenly place called a library. I could physically take home a book, read it, bring it back and get another one and so on. That “stuttering, over-weight, scared little girl could escape to another place with just the turn of a page. Fortunately, a marvelous history teacher by the name of Victor Asseff saw something in that backward “sponge” that he thought was redeemable and suggested that I join the drama club. Much against my best judgement, I joined, learned lines, lost the stutter, and was able to stand in from of an 9th grade classroom and recite a favorite poem without any trace of hesitance. Needless to say, I took all of Mr Asseff’s history, social studies and geography classes and developed even a deeper love of learning along the way. I was able to tell Mr. Asseff a few years later, after I had become a teacher, what an influence he had been on my life. I could tell he was pleased I had returned to let him know. Not only did he say he was, several times, but the tears in his eyes said even more. Even though I am now retired, I volunteer and tutor as much as possible just to keep “paying forward” the learning experience I was so fortunate to experience. After all, “a mind is a terrible thing to waste.”

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