Student Spotlight: Robert Smith

January 10, 2017

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Robert Smith and his tutor, Barb Farrell

Having reading difficulties is hard enough; dealing with the unfair, accompanying sense of shame is an even more devastating blow. Like so many other adults who come to the Literacy Council, Robert always struggled in school. One teacher even screamed at him “How can you be so stupid?” And he felt uncomfortable at home, too, believing that he was a disappointment to his father – a very talented and involved parent who stressed excellence in school and sports.

Once Robert left school, he worked in maintenance where his work ethic and skills led him to rise in the ranks. But to his coworkers’ amazement, Robert declined promotions. What they didn’t understand, of course, was that he was afraid he would fail when it came to handling the reading and writing tasks required by management positions. Instead, Robert would quit and take an entry-level position at a different company to avoid the possibility of being exposed as a non-reader.

What finally broke this pattern? Turns out it was something as simple as having his beloved grandchildren repeatedly ask him to read stories to them. Robert agreed to have his wife call the Literacy Council on his behalf, and soon was assessed and matched with tutor Barb Farrell, a retired teacher. Robert fully credits Barbara with helping him to regain his confidence and believe in himself again: “I want to tell the world how much of a blessing it was to be in the Literacy Council program and to have a teacher and counselor like Ms. Barbara.”

And Robert’s  progress continues: He enrolled in an Anne Arundel Community College Adult Basic Skills course this past fall and received a 91/100 on his final test!

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