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John Kespert
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John Kespert   My Press Releases

Tale of a Grade School Drop Out – Pt. 5

Published on 11/6/2015
For additional information  Click Here

Tale of a Grade School Drop-out – Pt. 5

    After two years in the hospital it was wonderful to be back at home again, not for just a weekend visit or a short vacation, but home to stay. There would still be daily stretching and strengthening exercises, and sessions of walking with my locked leg braces and crutches, but always with my firm but very loving Mom and not just with a physical therapist. I was a very happy 8 year old boy.

    However there was now the matter of my schooling. If you've read the earlier installments of this saga, you know that I'd only had 2 weeks in the First Grade before I “dropped-out” of school due to the polio. And other than a volunteer helping me learn to read from comic books, I'd had no instruction at all in writing, arithmetic, science or any other subject.

    None of the elementary schools in our home town were wheelchair accessible. Even if I had gone to one them it probably would have meant I'd have to start over in the First Grade since I'd missed out on so much. If I'd done that, I would have been the only 8 year old kid in a class with 6 year olds.

    One solution to my getting an education would have been to go to the hospital school in the next town. I'd be with other kids with disabilities and so wouldn't have any problem with “fitting in.” However that school was entirely residential. I would have had to stay there day and night except for school vacations. The school administrators had even stopped allowing kids to go home on weekends because so many parents had failed to bring their children back on Sundays in time for the day staff to get them all ready for bed.

    My Mom and Dad loved me too much to have me go right back into a hospital type environment for months at a time after having spent two years hospitalized. So what could be done about my education?

    The solution that seemed best was for me to have a tutor come to the house and teach me the 3 R's (reading, writing, 'rithmetic) and whatever other subjects kids of my age ought to learn. That is what was arranged. A very nice lady came in almost every week day for a few hours, except for my weekly visits to clinics.

    My tutor even had me do homework. Of course I wasn't able to manage to hold a pencil in exactly the standard way. I was right handed and my right thumb and index finger never regained their full strength. Yet by using my middle finger instead of my index finger it was possible for me to write first letters, then words, and also numbers and thereby was able to do all my lessons.

    Apparently I was learning okay, based on my tutor's review of the homework and tests that she gave me.

    However, I noticed there was one thing missing. My older and younger sisters were, of course, going to regular schools. And every few months they were bringing home something that I wasn't getting from “my school” (my tutor). They were getting Report Cards! I wanted to know how good (or not so good) I was doing. So my tutor made up some sort of “report card” for me. (But it didn't look quite like those blue folding cards that my sisters got, so I was only partly satisfied.)

    After two years of being tutored at home, our town opened it's first elementary school that was all one one floor. It was decided that I could be transported there via a taxi that the town hired. So In September of 1959 I returned to a regular school. I became the only kid in the entire school who was in a wheelchair.

    But, you might wonder, what grade was I assigned to? I'd only had those previous two years with a tutor at home. Had I learned enough to handle being in a 5th grade class with kids my own age? They decided I should give it a try.

    And I did try. And I did enjoy being there with so many other kids my age. Of course I did like recess the best, spending that time with so many new friends. Except for those 2 weeks in at the start of first grade, I'd never really had recess before. And it seemed like I was doing all right in keeping up in all subjects.

    But one day my teacher told me it had been decided it would be better if I went to a different reading class, in another room, with another teacher. He told me what kind of reading class it was but I wasn't familiar with the word he used. I didn't dare ask what that word meant. I was troubled by this change. I wondered if I was being sent to this other class because I wasn't smart enough to stay in the regular class. That's why I didn't ask my teacher that question what that word he used meant. I didn't want him to think I was even dumber than they'd determined that I was.

    I was wheeled down to that other class. In that room there we some kids I already knew, and several others that I hadn't met yet. The set of reading materials they had for us looked quite different from what I had been using up until then. We read the stories and talked about what we'd read. It didn't seem very different, or easier, but I was still concerned.

    When I got home that day my Mom asked how things had gone. I told her about having to go to a different class for reading.

    “What kind of class was it, John?” my mother inquired. She could tell I wasn't too happy about the change.

    “I don't know...something called a 'sellerated reading class. Does that mean I'm dumb?” To my surprise, she smiled.

    “Was the word they used 'accelerated'?” she inquired.

    “Yes, that was the word. Mom...what was does 'accelerated' mean?”

    She smiled broadly. “It means this class is only for those who can read really well, John. That class is for the kids who are really good readers, you silly boy.” That brought a smile to my face that was just as wide as the one she had!

    And this concludes installment #5 of my Tale of a Grade-School Drop-out. If you enjoyed it and would like to read the other installments, Here are the links to them. Part. 1, Part 2, Part 3, & Part 4.

 

 

 

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