A Struggle to Learn
From the time when I was a little boy, growing up in Graves County, Kentucky, I have had problems with my reading and writing. Things never seemed to click for me, a trait that the teachers attributed to a mild case of dyslexia mixed with a healthy dose of attention deficit disorder. I knew, however, that no disorder was the cause of my distaste of reading and writing. Rather, there was nothing really interesting surrounding me that would grab my interest in the classroom. The teachers I encountered never took any interest in what their students wanted to read or write; they developed assignments based on what the curriculum, a course of study developed by some politicians at the Board of Education, told them to do. This work was so far removed from what we, as students were experiencing in our own lives, and the assignments were so boring that they could have put an insomniac to sleep. However, my life changed the day I met my Junior English teacher, Mr. Clark Duncan.
Clark Duncan was an interesting man, especially when you contrasted him with the surroundings in Graves County. Most of the men in Graves lived their days in work clothes, with at least one article of camouflage attached to their outfits at any given time. Almost every jean pocket showed the wear from a Skoal can because no true Graves man would work or socialize without a dip in his mouth. The most common calls that the police received were from residents who were concerned because the neighbor’s cows had gotten loose and were standing in the middle of the road keeping them from getting to work at the tire plant. In short, my town and the surrounding county, were about as country as a town can be.
Everyone knew that when Mr. Duncan walked in, he must be from another place altogether. As he stepped over the threshold into my English class, his highly polished, patent leather wing tips were the first thing I noticed. This man was J Crew in a sea of Carhartt. He...
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