Wednesday, January 23, 2013

School Visit - Mid-Columbia Seventh Day Adventist School

I had a fabulous visit with the 1st-4th grade class of the Mid-Columbia Seventh Day Adventist School. We jumped up and down on one foot, we talked writing, we talked books, we had a blast. This is a rough outline of what I said - I try hard not to read from the paper, but with two little boys running around my feet these days I don't have as much time to practice my speeches.

I’ll start my personal adventures of when I was in 4th grade. I was living in Grosse Pointe, Michigan. It was a really hard year for me. In the classroom I didn’t feel very good about myself. I was the worst in the class – the worst. In my class we had a chart with all our names on it. Every week we took a spelling test. If we got a hundred on our spelling test my teacher would put a star next to our names. All my classmates had at least four or five stars next to their names for getting a hundred on their spelling test, but not me. I never got a star. My chart stayed blank the whole year. During reading hour, when we finished our assignment we could go up to the teacher and get a candy sucker. I always finished last and by the time I got to pick a candy all the good flavors were gone. In the classroom I felt stupid, really stupid.

In 5th grade we moved to Boston Massachusetts. I started at a new school, with a new teacher where I had to make new friends. On one of my first days in school my teacher asked me to read out loud in front of the whole class. I just sat at my desk and looked at the book because that was all I could do – I couldn’t read – I didn’t know how to read. I felt even more stupid. But, my teacher was wonderful. She took me aside and had me tested by a professional for learning disability. My results said that I was reading and spelling on a first grade level and was dyslexic – a common learning disability that affects people’s ability to LEARN. I was told that being dyslexic did not mean that I couldn’t read and spell – it meant that I had to learn how to read and spell differently. With this new knowledge my teacher and after school tutor taught me how to read and spell. I didn’t learn overnight. It was years of hard hard hard work, but by 8th grade I finally caught up. I was finally reading and spelling on an eighth grade level. In high school I graduated near the top of my class and a member of the National Honor Society. In college I graduated near the top of my class with a near perfect grade point average of 3.98 and was awarded the highest academic honor available to an accounting major.

I am so proud to tell you that I am dyslexic. I believe it is the greatest gift I was given because it forced me to learn how to work really hard. If school had been easy for me I don’t know if I would have ever learned how to work really hard. And it’s through my hard work that I have found success. You see, starting at age of 13, I had the goal of making U.S. Olympic Team in the sport of Whitewater Slalom Kayaking. And through my hard work in sport I ended up on the US National Team, ranked second in the country, a world championship silver medalist, and the first alternate to two US Olympic Teams.

My point is this: our greatest weaknesses – mine being reading and spelling – we can all find something that will help us become better at whatever we set out to achieve.

I would have NEVER in a million years thought I would stand in front of you as an author. Even though I worked so hard to over come my dyslexia I am still really scared of words! Commas, nouns, adjectives – grammar in general SCARE me. But, I had a dream – I wanted to write a book, so I put aside my fears and worked really hard to write this little book. And again, if I hadn’t been dyslexic, if I hadn’t learned how to work really hard in school, I would have never been able to write this book.

So to sum up my personal adventures I truly believe that my greatest weakness in life – being dyslexic - truly became my greatest strength because it taught me how to work really hard. 
A huge thank you to Stacey at Mid-Colubmia SDA School. It is amazing teachers like you that help unlock the wonders in every book. Thank you - Thank you - Thank you!

To view Sarah's middle grade fiction book click here: Paperback and Kindle