To my elementary school teachers, thank you including me in everything, regardless of my fluency. Numerous examples of this come to mind. I think of my kindergarten’s annual Christmas play in which I played an inn keeper. Thank you for giving me a speaking role and allowing me to stutter through, “You are so cold.” I easily could’ve been given a non-speaking role or excluded from the play, but I wasn’t it. Looking back almost twenty years later, I appreciate being a given role and to see be seen like the rest of my classmates. I also think of my teachers who did their best to make sure I didn’t miss anything critical, due to my speech therapy. Thank you for seeing my speech treatment as just as important as your class and doing your best to make sure neither suffered. I think of being allowed to participate in class, even though I stutter. That is something I know some other teachers wouldn’t allow. I think of me being consoled and not pushed aside when my stutter won and kids were making fun of me for it. More importantly, thank you for encouraging me to forgive and not resent my classmates when they picked on me (fortunately I wasn’t picked on that much).
To my high school teachers, thank you for allowing me to take on leadership roles in a variety of organizations. When my stutter returned during my senior year, thank you for allowing me to continue in my leadership roles on campus. Being in Big Brothers, Operation Headstart, Ambassadors, and Campus Ministry, were big parts of my high school experience and big keys in my growth as an individual. Thank you for not using my stutter as a means to discourage me from continuing in those groups. Thank you for still allowing me to give tours of the school, give talks on retreats, talk to prospective students and their parents, and representing the school at a variety of local events.
To my college professors, thank you for allowing me to set the tone of how my stutter was handled. An example that comes to mine is during the spring semester of my freshman year, I took a theatre appreciation class. For our final project, we had get into groups and write and act in a one act play. Joe, thanks for allowing me to act as if my character stuttered and I was a fluent person playing the role of someone who stuttered. I wasn’t at the point where I owned my stutter and thank you for allowing me to do what was comfortable. To my public speaking professor, thank you for hearing my content and not my stutter when I presented. To my forensic professors, thank you for allowing me to pursue a field that involved testifying in court and never discouraging me to pursue this because I stutter. When I presented in class, thank you for hearing me and not my stutter.
Regardless of where you were in my educational journey, THANK YOU for not treating me any differently because of the fact that I stutter.