Here is the latest in our series of learner stories.
Jack is the reason why I need to colour my hair!! He comes in to the office at least once a month with a fundraising idea. But he doesn’t expect me to do the fundraising idea alone, he works right along side of us. I have often told him that he could sell a Speedo to an Inuit in January. He is always looking to support our agency and our learners. If we are at the mall selling books, he is there. If we are at the arena promoting our program, he is there. AND he defends adult learners like no other. He is the reason that we started this campaign. Jack wanted to make sure that the public knew that adult learners may have an unique history and no adult learner is the same. Adult learners may not have received the education that others did and there are many different reasons as to why that happened. There is no one like Jack, he is irreplaceable!!
“You can call me Jack”
My name is Jack and this is my story.
School wasn’t a good place for me when I was young. When I first went to school, I soon realized that the kids who wanted to learn always sat in the front. I sat in the back. I was put in Special Education classes and we were bullied. I was bullied and no one stopped it. If I said something, I was told that we should go our separate ways. I really wish that there was more help back then for kids.
Things were tough at home and this hurt my school time. I would go to school with bruises and I was never asked about them. I was abused at home and I was so nervous and shaken that my father would come to school to hurt me. I felt scared all the time, even at school.
My home life wasn’t any better. I developed a nervous stutter because I was scared to speak. I could only spit out a couple of words at a time. “It’s hard to believe how you can’t spit the words out when you’re scared”. My father drank and partied and then he would come home late to abuse us. Sometimes we didn’t have any food. I would collect pop cans for money in order to go to the movies to get out of the house. If that didn’t work, I would go to the park or hide in the bush so that I wouldn’t have to go home. I was so scared to go home, that I would have stayed at school for as long as they would let me. The abuse made me not trust anyone. I thought everyone was against me. The day my dad died, was the day I started speaking more and the day the light went on for me.
I always had work and I was never fired. I would go into businesses to get applications and take them home to figure out what I had to do before bringing them back. I pretended to read because I didn’t want my employers to know that I couldn’t read. I felt ashamed that I couldn’t read.
The turning for me was with my kids. I would “read” a special book to my kids. I couldn’t read so I would just make up a story. One day my kids brought the book to school for the teacher to read. He came home and said to me that the story the teacher read was different from the one I had been telling them. That was the day that I decided to learn for myself. I wanted to read.
It takes a lot of courage to go back to school and ask for help. I knew I was the one who had to ask. I saw an ad for the North Bay Literacy Council (now Literacy Nipissing) and thought I would look them up. When I first went to get help, I made it half way up the stairs before I turned around and left. I got to the bottom of the stairs, took a minute and went back up. I was on my way to getting help.
I have now learned to read and write. I have had a number of tutors, who I call angels. They have helped me so much. I am so thankful for their help. They give back so much to us. It is a miracle to have a place where people can get so much help to learn to read and write. There is always an open door and you always feel welcome.
I have had a lot of achievements since I started. I now have a driver’s license, a boating license and a hunting license. I have won the Canada Post Award for literacy. I sit on the board for the Literacy Council and I run student workshops. I have run a student scavenger hunt for the past six years. I believe that you have to give back. I really love going to workshop myself and talking with other students.
It was important to me to tell my story because I want people in our city to know that Literacy Councils are very important to many. I was helping out at a fundraiser and I met someone who couldn’t believe that there were people who needed this help. Everyone needs to know that there are a lot of adults who need help. I have changed a lot in my life and coming to the Literacy Council to learn to read and write was a big change. The Literacy Council gave me a second chance in life.