You Never Know Who Will Need Our Help

Six months. In less than six months, the 2014 IAACE Conference will be held at the Keystone Sheraton in Indianapolis. Six months. On one hand, that seems so far away. A lot can happen in six months. Think about it, six months ago, we were all trying to figure out the plans for the new GED test, and look where we are now.

On the other hand, six months is going to be here so quickly that we’ll wonder where that time went. With this in mind, this is when the planning for the conference really starts to kick in. We’ll soon send out a call for presenters. We’ll start planning sessions, and we’ll plan menus. It’ll all happen quickly.

But, I am excited to announce that we have lined up our Keynote speaker! Can you imagine graduating from high school and college, and then going on to be a teacher for 17 years (including a stint as an English teacher), and only being able to read at a 2nd grade level? It has happened, and it is the story of our speaker, John Corcoran. Mr. Corcoran wrote a book called, The Teacher Who Couldn’t Read, that chronicles his life as a non-reader. He talks extensively about how he struggled through school without his parents, or his teachers knowing that he couldn’t read. He writes about his struggles as he worked his way through college, graduating from Texas Western University to become a teacher, and later, a real estate developer. Finally, at the age of 48, John went to a local literacy program to get help with his reading.

Yes, John’s story is extreme, but it is also a great example of how there are people around us, around ALL of us, who struggle every day with their reading, their learning, and their lack of education. They are from a variety of backgrounds, and have a variety of skills. And, most of all, it shows that they are very smart people- something that not even our students always believe. You just never know who will need our services.

But it’ll also show that, no matter how successful one becomes, there will almost always be a time when you will have/feel the need to go back and fill in those missing pieces. It is a story that all educators should hear, and share with their students.

In addition to The Teacher Who Couldn’t Read, Mr. Corcoran has also written The Bridge to Literacy: No Child -or Adult- Left Behind.

I’m sure we’ve all had students that surprise us because of who they are/what they do. People tend to have a vision about who adult education students are, and there are always people who totally blow away those thoughts. Tell me (in the comments below) about a memorable student you have had who would surprise people if they knew, because of his/her background, they were involved in a literacy or ABE program.