My Reading Crusade, Part 8

I saw the electronics teacher walking to school, and he must have seen much of what happened. The drafting teacher just pulled into the parking lot to park next to my car. Both teachers united to give chase to the van that was speeding out of the parking lot. They were able to get the license number of the van, but it turned out to be a stolen vehicle, so my assailant was never caught.

The Latin teacher just arrived at the upper parking lot. He carried my briefcase and assisted me to the school office. The athletic department head was on duty and immediately came to my assistance. He called for the ambulance, and also called my wife. My wife was on the phone talking to an appliance repair person at the time of this call, and the operator broke in on her call and informed her that I had been shot. My wife’s mother drove her to the hospital where I had been taken.

My science teacher friend, Mr. Hackett, helped the athletic department head take me to the awaiting ambulance. The students cheered and clapped and called me by the name they usually did to deride and frustrate me. Mr. Hackett rescued almost all of my teaching materials from my padlocked closet in room 307 and took the many selection boxes to his law office where I later was able to come get them. He told me that because of the disrespect he saw the students give me, he submitted his two-week notice immediately after all this happened and left his teaching job. He mentioned to me that the young lady who processed the forms at the Schools Center Building recognized my name when he mentioned what happened to me as the reason for his decision to retire from teaching. She was shocked at what happened to me. She was a former student of mine that I still remember from when I taught English at Cass Technical High School.

While I was at the hospital, I was visited immediately by Mrs. Malik (I worked with her at Cass Technical High School in the Programmed Instruction Laboratory some years before), who had heard that an unnamed teacher had been shot at Southeastern High School. Mrs. Malik told me that she just “knew” it was me and came directly to the hospital to see me and my wife and children. My oldest son was just three years old when this happened, but he remembers this event to this day. The athletic department head came to see me, and brought me my broken glasses he had retrieved from the parking lot where I had told him I had fallen. He warned me in no uncertain terms that whoever it was who had shot me meant to kill me. He said no one shoots someone in the back of the head without intending to murder them.

I seem  to recall that after leaving the hospital my mother-in-law drove us to Southeastern High School to retrieve some things of mine before driving me home. While I was seated in the car, the last student I saw was a student named Anthony. The special education teachers had learned how I used a program I had written for my students to greatly help them improve in their reading comprehension. They asked if they could have one or two of their students enter my class to see if they could be helped this way. Anthony did very well, getting an A in my class, and advancing his reading comprehension test score by a couple of years.

That reminds me. Mr. Hackett and some of the social studies teachers were very interested in what I was doing to help my students read better. They frankly did not believe my claims that my program worked so well. Mr. Hackett asked me if I had ever met Dennis. I did not know that student. Mr. Hackett described Dennis as one of the most well-mannered, cooperative, and helpfu students he ever met. Later, Dennis was enrolled in my American History class. Mr. Hackett regularly asked me how Dennis was doing. I said he had earned a B so far in my  class. He laughed, and said, “Yes, but I bet he didn’t learn anything!” When I gave the reading comprehension post test, Dennis had improved by two years. That surprised and impressed Mr. Hackett and a couple of the social studies teachers who knew the student.

The story of my being shot was in the news on radio and television and in the newspapers that day. The next morning I remember hearing a school system administrator on the radio saying the administration had no way of securing the over 200 school buildings in the school district of Detroit against such unfortunate events. There was a front-page article in the Detroit News the following weekend or so about how the police department in Detroit never investigated or followed up on shootings like I was the victim of unless the shooting had resulted in a fatality. Needless to say, whoever shot me was never identified and never caught.

During the time I was off teaching, I was asked to tutor a young student that lived locally to me. I wrote a new Introductory Unit to my reading program especially for him to give him enough background to be successful in working the rest of the program. The student was in the third grade and was struggling with reading. He did much better the rest of the way through school.

Some years later, my mother-in-law volunteered to serve as a “foster grandparent,” a teacher aide in the local elementary school. The student she worked with the most was still struggling with reading. At parent-teacher conference time she met the child’s grandmother and told her about how her son-in-law had written a reading program that proved quite helpful to many students. The grandmother came over to meet me. She was a retired teacher. She looked at the program, and decided to purchase a copy. I learned later that the program worked very well with the child, and instead of being a constant disciplinary problem in class, he made great progress and did well  the rest of the way through the local public school system.

It is my firm belief that all this “anecdotal evidence” demonstrates that The Language Enrichment Program certainly works to improve the reading comprehension level of everyone who uses it. It is available now on Amazon. Just search for it by title.

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