Today, after I worked with Kathy, I was asked to stop by the office. They had a question for me. Turns out, they are wondering if I would take on a new student.
The truth is, I’m too busy for the one I have – teaching someone to read is a big commitment while pursuing a masters and I’m barely able to keep on top of all my work as it is. I should say no. But this case is pretty hard to resist.
The man’s name is Hoyt and he is 63. Testing revealed he doesn’t even recognize the alphabet. Only his name. He went to school up until 2nd grade, but dropped out because all they had him do was chores. He was expected to lug in the water and carry firewood. Remember, he is 63. 55 years ago in a small town like this one, the schoolhouse was a rustic, one room shed with all ages in it together. He was appointed the teacher’s lackey, so it turned out, school was too hard for him. (for all the wrong reasons).
Hoyt went on to become a wealthy landowner. In fact, he is a millionaire now with property all over Blue Ridge, in Colorado and in Russia. I guess he began making deals with a handshake. I can’t imagine how he was able to pull off honest business dealings as a totally illiterate adult in our changing world.
Hoyt is renowned for his weakness for beautiful woman. Was always dating a few drop dead gorgeous gals, so they say. Last year he married a beautiful Russian woman that they say looks like a Victoria Secret model. She is 20. She doesn’t speak any English and Hoyt doesn’t speak Russian. He met her while dealing with her family in a land purchase (perhaps the bride was the bonus?)
When the new misses was brought to America she began learning English so she could communicate with her country gent. Now she’s at the Appalachian College learning to read and write. She wants to go to a university here in America.
Recently, she discovered her wealthy husband couldn’t read. She was shocked. She began showing him her phonetics – which were not as hard as he expected, but he forgot them the next day. One thing lead to another and suddenly, she started demanding he learn to read.
Hoyt says he is hoping this beautiful young gal won’t up and run off on him, so he wants to please her. He’ll learn to read if it’s going to be such a big deal to her.
The directors of the program wanted me to know they couldn’t guarantee he would stick out a tutorial program , considering his motivation, but Hoyt did confess he would really love to learn to read the newspaper. That is something. But he believes he is too old to learn – since he hasn’t caught on for a lifetime, perhaps something is wrong with him.
They believe I be the perfect teacher for him. For one thing, while I’m no 20 year old Victoria Secret carbon copy, I am no old Baptist school marm either, which tends to be the average volunteer in this program. He might be receptive to me. And since Hoyt is a successful businessman, I can probably relate to him on that level too. He has said he doesn’t want anyone who will be condescending or make him feel stupid. Again, this makes me a good candidate for teaching him. If anything, I’m a person who believes that intelligence is not something measured by standardized tests.
I will meet him next week and decide if I want to take him on. I really don’t have the time, but he sounds so darn interesting I can’t resist considering it.
What is funny is that even though the women directing this literacy program don’t know me well, they have me pegged. They told me about Hoyt, then looked at me out of the sides of their eyes and said, “I imagine you would learn a lot from a guy like him.”
Ha. Every other volunteer is here to save souls. I’m here to explore them. The others want people to read the bible. I want them to read everything else. I guess my motivation is transparent.
So, next week I will meet Hoyt, and perhaps his beautiful young Russian wife. I don’t know what will come of it, but one thing is for sure. You can expect a blogfest after that one!