Re: [MOL] Thursday Helping of Chicken Soup for the Soul [01902] Medicine On Line

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Re: [MOL] Thursday Helping of Chicken Soup for the Soul

That was another wonderful story. Thanks.

At 06:57 AM 22/10/98 -0700, you wrote:
>Mr. Washington
>       One day in 11th grade, I went into a classroom to wait for a 
>  friend of mine. When I went into the room, the teacher, Mr. 
>  Washington, suddenly appeared and asked me to go to the board to 
>  write something, to work something out. I told him that I 
>  couldn’t do it. And he said, “Why not?”
>       I said, “Because I’m not one of your students.”
>       He said, “It doesn’t matter. Go to the board anyhow.”
>       I said, “I can’t do that.”
>       He said, “Why not?”
>       And I paused because I was somewhat embarrassed. I said, 
>  “Because I’m Educable Mentally Retarded.”
>       He came from behind his desk and he looked at me and he 
>  said, “Don’t ever say that again. Someone’s opinion of you does 
>  not have to become your reality.”
>       It was a very liberating moment for me. On one hand, I was 
>  humiliated because the other students laughed at me. They knew 
>  that I was in Special Education. But on the other hand, I was 
>  liberated because he began to bring to my attention that I did 
>  not have to live within the context of what another person’s view 
>  of me was.
>       And so Mr. Washington became my mentor. Prior to this 
>  experience, I had failed twice in school. I was identified as 
>  Educable Mentally Retarded in the fifth grade, was put back from 
>  the fifth grade into the fourth grade, and failed again, when I 
>  was in the eighth grade. So this person made a dramatic 
>  difference in my life.
>       I always say that he operates in the consciousness of 
>  Goethe, who said, “Look at a man the way that he is, he only 
>  becomes worse. But look at him as if he were what he could be, 
>  and then he becomes what he should be.” Like Calvin Lloyd, Mr. 
>  Washington believed that “Nobody rises to low expectations.” This 
>  man always gave students the feeling that he had high 
>  expectations for them and we strove, all of the students strove, 
>  to live up to what those expectations were.
>       One day, when I was still a junior, I heard him giving a 
>  speech to some graduating seniors. He said to them, “You have 
>  greatness within you. You have something special. If just one of 
>  you can get a glimpse of a larger vision of yourself, of who you 
>  really are, of what it is you bring to the planet, of your 
>  specialness, then in a historical context, the world will never 
>  be the same again. You can make your parents proud. You can make 
>  your school proud. You can make your community proud. You can 
>  touch millions of people’s lives.” He was talking to the seniors, 
>  but it seemed like that speech was for me.
>       I remember when they gave him a standing ovation. 
>  Afterwards, I caught up to him in the parking lot and I said, 
>  “Mr. Washington, do you remember me? I was in the auditorium when 
>  you were talking to the seniors.”
>       He said, “What were you doing there? You are a junior.”
>       I said, “I know. But that speech you were giving, I heard 
>  your voice coming through the auditorium doors. That speech was 
>  for me, Sir. You said they had greatness within them. I was in 
>  that auditorium. Is there greatness within me, Sir?”
>       He said, “Yes, Mr. Brown.”
>       “But what about the fact that I failed English and math and 
>  history, and I’m going to have to go to summer school. What about 
>  that, Sir? I’m slower than most kids. I’m not as smart as my 
>  brother or my sister who’s going to the University of Miami.”
>       “It doesn’t matter. It just means that you have to work 
>  harder. Your grades don’t determine who you are or what you can 
>  produce in your life.”
>       “I want to buy my mother a home.”
>       “It’s possible, Mr. Brown. You can do that.” And he turned 
>  to walk away again.
>       “Mr. Washington?”
>       “What do you want now?”
>       “Uh, I’m the one, Sir. You remember me, remember my name. 
>  One day you’re gonna hear it. I’m gonna make you proud. I’m the 
>  one, Sir.”
>       School was a real struggle for me. I was passed from one 
>  grade to another because I was not a bad kid. I was a nice kid; I 
>  was a fun kid. I made people laugh. I was polite. I was 
>  respectful. So teachers would pass me on, which was not helpful 
>  to me. But Mr. Washington made demands on me. He made me 
>  accountable. But he enabled me to believe that I could handle it, 
>  that I could do it.
>       He became my instructor my senior year, even though I was 
>  Special Education. Normally, Special Ed students don’t take 
>  Speech and Drama, but they made special provisions for me to be 
>  with him. The principal realized the kind of bonding that had 
>  taken place and the impact that he’d made on me because I had 
>  begun to do well academically. For the first time in my life I 
>  made the honor roll. I wanted to travel on a trip with the drama 
>  department and you had to be on the honor roll in order to make 
>  the trip out of town. That was a miracle for me!
>       Mr. Washington restructured my own picture of who I am. He 
>  gave me a larger vision of myself, beyond my mental conditioning 
>  and my circumstances.
>       Years later, I produced five specials that appeared on 
>  public television. I had some friends call him when my program, 
>  “You Deserve,” was on the educational television channel in 
>  Miami. I was sitting by the phone waiting when he called me in 
>  Detroit. He said, “May I speak to Mr. Brown, please?”
>       “Who’s calling?”
>       “You know who’s calling.”
>       “Oh, Mr. Washington, it’s you.”
>       “You were the one, weren’t you?”
>       “Yes, Sir, I was.”
>HOpe you all enjoy this message. Many of you will go on to be mentors as
>a result of this condition. We seem to benefit by our "handicaps" or
>major physical concerns and then many of you will go on to teach others,
>as I do, the myths about the disease to affirm to ourselves that we are
>and can do better than we perceive, and then what we inspire to others
>benefit them in a way that they will go on to be better than what they
>can imagine and so in doing, others, many others benefit by what you
>learn, and what you contribute. So, to all the mentors in the world,
>continue, we need you.
>God Bless
>marty auslander
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