Author: Cy Pombier
Source: Reprinted with permission of the author
I’m a retired High School teacher, 39 successful years of teaching Debate, Government, and Economics. Chairman of the English Department [Jackson Parkside High School]for 16years and of the Social Studies Department for 14 years[Jackson High School].
I was a total non-reader through the 4th grade…a blue-bird with 2 other students with limited learning ability. Special Education didn’t exist in 1942+, but I was lucky enough to have a Mother who told the school I was Smart, “Leave him alone, he will read when he wants to.” I loved Tarzan movies and Mom told me there were book about Tarzan. I read 14 of ERB’s books that summer. I can’t remember learning to read…I just opened the book and it made sense. I am able to extrapolate key ideas, identify fallacies of reasoning, and draw logical conclusions. But don’t ask me the authors name or book title!!
I can’t spell, remember names of people, street names, phone numbers, or list of things [A-B-C’s are easy if I start from “A” and sing them]. I can’t sound out new words, till I hear them a few times.
School papers would have an “A” for content, an “E” for spelling and correct grammar, which averaged a “C.” Spell-check would have made me an A student…WOW!
I was a State champion in Debate in College for Central Michigan… flunked English composition from a teacher who demanded that Central Michigan throw me out as a poor speller and writer. [I would write simple sentences and one syllable words on in-class themes.] The debate coach kept me in college and the VP, Dr. Moore, who had been on a debate trip gave me individual writing instruction. He had me read Essay paragraphs, then attempt to re-write them.
I flunked out of MSU after a “C-” in a research paper class. Then completed my Masters in Speech Communication at Western Michigan University…Dr. VanRiper fame…
I loved teaching. Taught the AP classes, Debate, and a large number of mainstreamed special education students. I heard a speech on “Dyslexia” from a Prof.. from MSU [Can’t remember his name] but he described his own form of Dyslexia and the description was ME.
I always told my students that I could not remember names [Seating charts required], which was an advantage for them. If they created a problem one day I would throw them out of class…the next day, when they returned to class, I wouldn’t remember they had been a problem. I had a simple attendance rule: Be in class, on time, when possible. If not…come in when you can quietly! Most were there most of the time.
I’m not sure if my story of dealing with Dyslexia is of any value, but I’ll be happy to answer any questions.