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Person of Influence

I have always struggled when it came to reading and writing. I am a slow reader. That doesn’t mean that I do not like reading. It just means that it takes me a little longer than the average person. I also struggle with writing. I have poor penmanship and I cannot spell. I have tried working to improve both of these but in the end I have been very grateful for the invention of the computer where I can type and use spell check. I have found it interesting that in my profession as a computer programmer as I created names for variables that are used in the code, I have no problem remembering how I spelt even the most complicated of variable names but when it comes to regular words, I get lost in the sounds and in the rules. As I said, I am grateful for advancements in technology that afford me the ability to write without anxiety.

My problems with reading and writing were evident very early in my childhood. My mother has told me of an experience that I had when I was probably in first grade. I was struggling in class and so someone had come to the school to test my abilities. I do not remember this experience but this is how my mother described what happened. This person came and pulled me out of class to test me. I did not know the person and I had never met them before. Also, the place where the person took me to administer the test was described as more of a closet than an office. When I came home that day apparently I was a little scared and shaken up. I told my mother that someone had kidnapped me. Needless to say, I did not do well on that test and from that moment on I was labeled as someone who struggled in school and who had a low IQ.

Sure, I had teachers that were kind to me and that were a positive influence on me but from that moment on I was looked at differently when it came to my schooling and my abilities. That is until I reached Junior High. That is when I met Miss Bruner. She was my Junior High English teacher. The class I was in was not a regular English class and we did not do the things that normal students did. Today they call those types of classes Resource English. The name of the class back then was Learning Disabled English. However, Miss Bruner showed me the same kindness and concern that my previous teachers showed to me but she also did something more. She fought to have me re-tested. She seemed to see something in me that even I did not see. Eventually, in ninth grade, I was finally retested. The test was done in an environment in which I was familiar and by someone that I knew. The results were significantly different. By then it didn’t matter how I was labeled in school, I was going to succeed or fail based upon my own abilities and not by any label, however, it made a difference to me.

Miss Bruner is married now and goes by another name. She is still working as a teacher helping students like myself who struggle with different aspects of their education. And even though I have not kept in contact with her over the years, she has always been close to my thoughts and in my prayers because of the influence she had over me.

Now, just before Christmas 2016, after publishing my first book, one of the first people that I reached out to was my old teacher, Miss Bruner. With my family and a new copy of Hope of Israel: Miriam’s Journey in my hand, I knocked on a door to a home that I was hoping was the right address. It was. We were only there for a few minutes but it was a visit that I will always remember. When I presented Miss Bruner the gift of a book that I had written, emotions were felt. If it were not for her influence and the way it changed my view of myself, I probably would have never dared to even attempt writing a book. But I did.

Just the other day I received a card from Miss Bruner. She has given me permission to share some of what she said, “I loved the book and I took a long time reading it (just a tiny bit a day) because I didn’t want it to end! The whole experience is still so surreal to me; I am so touched that you found me and shared your book (and a book on faith is the cherry on top of it all!). You have proven that you’re a quality author as well as an exceptional person!”

I will always be grateful to Miss Bruner and the influence she had in my life.