I have to listen carefully. I cannot tell if he’s saying the word correctly. It’s “his” but I hear “is.” After a couple of attempts, I’m convinced Teddy knows the word; but his accent is strong and he needs a reminder to pronounce that “H” more clearly.
After class I was gathering my papers. Teddy hadn’t moved. “Teacher, I come every day. Sometimes I have to leave early for a doctor’s appointment, but I don’t miss class. I want to learn to read.”
He told me about his early life in Jamaica. His family was poor and he had little. It has been over 50 years since he attended first grade there, where the kids bullied and tormented him for being poor. And so humiliated, Teddy never went back to school and had no one to guide him back.
As the years passed, Teddy came to America and married. He wanted to learn to read, but his wife was unable to help him. It was his daughter who thought it important that he learn to read, and he promised her that he would. His wife directed him to Learn to Read.
And now, Teddy is here in class twice a week. He never misses a class. He is never late, and he works every week one-on-one with a tutor. He is honoring his promise to his daughter by striving to learn more and more each week. He can now, honestly, say that he can read! And with continuing classes and tutoring, Teddy’s reading ability can only improve! His daughter is no longer with us, but I am sure she is extremely proud of her father.