April 20, 1998
Our story this week is a special event, because we are launching two learners stories on the Internet, and you can read their stories as well as hear them, with the proper audio program as shown below.
Stephen almost completed high school, but he could not read or write past a grade two level. He was constantly in trouble with his teachers because of this problem and often sent out of the class, or into the hall, or up to the principal's office, or to the library. He has been coming to Project Literacy Victoria since the Fall of 1995. He is a member of the Board of Directors of P.L.V. Stephen's wife, Woudrina and he have three children who are under five years old : Rebekah, Joshua, and Hannah.
Play an audio version of this story
I almost completed my high school, I could not read or write past a grade two level.
I was constantly in trouble with my teachers, because of this problem and often sent out of the class, into the hall, up to the principles office, or to the library. I was not sent to these places to learn how to read or write, but to be out of the view of my instructors, as well as my fellow classmates. I was able to move forward in school because of two reasons: One was I had a younger brother in a grade behind me and the school knew that they would be embarrassed to have one brother in grade one or two while his younger brother was in grade two or three.
When I was at home, and asked to go to the store with a check, I always asked the cashier if they wouldnt mind filling it out for me. I couldnt even spell numbers and I was so afraid of making a mistake and not knowing about it.
Whenever it came to reading I moved my eyes like I was reading, however in reality, I was just looking for anything like a picture that would give me a clue to what it was I was looking at.
I never went to a public library until I moved to Calgary and there was one right by the swimming pool which my friends and I hung out at as teenagers, before and after swimming. It was just a place to keep warm before and after swimming. I didnt know about the library and I never took out a book from a library, until I moved to Victoria in 1982. I never understood how a library worked or who did what in the library
Also, if I was asked to read or write something down I would freeze with fear because I knew I couldnt do it.
Another major problem is after so many failures in a persons life which begins in the early days of childs schooling, you start to believe you are not smart or cant do anything right. Also, that you will always be a failure in life. There always seems to be someone around to reinforce this view about yourself. This train of thought was and at times still is very strong in my life. Most of all I didnt understand until one day, not that long ago, when I found out I had Dyslexia. This learning disability is more noticeable in some people than others. The problems are real and painful for those who have it.
For me this information was good news on one hand, but on the other hand, I was so ashamed of it. This disability caused so much pain for me. I never told another person until the fall of 1994. I have been coming to P.L.V. for two years. (Fall 1995) The very first time it was suggested I look into P.L.V. I remember being scared and very insecure. I have learned a lot since the first day when I walked into the office at P.L.V. for help with my English and math. I have also completed the Fine Furniture course at Camosun College, and I am now looking for work in the field of furniture design, construction, or cabinet work. My goal is to receive my journeyman papers in bench work joinery.
The biggest confidence builder, and one of the highest honours that came since starting at Project Literacy, is being asked to be on the board of directors in November of 1996, as a learner representative. It was a shock to me because most of my life people looked down at me, thinking and saying that I wasnt smart enough to take on any major positions in my life. Being a member of the Board of Directors for a non-profit organization can be challenging as well as a blessing.
My wife, Woudrina and I have three children all under five years old. Rebekah, Joshua, and Hannah.