Charley’s World Episode Twenty-Five

Charley had a call from Vivian, the wife of a former cross-country track teammate. She wanted to visit him to discuss the challenges she had in helping her son learn. He was on the autism spectrum and really struggled.

After Vivian and Charley met, Charley asked her if she would spend a few minutes with Missy. Vivian had been the statewide winner in the Miss West Virginia pageant. She was still beautiful, and Charley just thought that she and Missy would connect. They did, but not in a way that Charley had ever expected.

Charley had given Vivian some of Missy’s story and thought that Vivian could inspire Missy to keep on target with her learning. He was especially concerned that Missy would fall back to her old habits if she got the grades she needed for the homecoming queen competition.

Missy was very interested in hearing about the beauty pageant and that’s where Vivian started. Then she turned the conversation in another direction. “I really got tired of being judged by other people. It got to a point that I was afraid to even be in public because someone would judge me for what clothes I had on, what I bought, or how I looked.”

“The turning point for me was when I discovered my child was on the autism spectrum. I’ve educated myself about autism and have begun to work with other parents on coping strategies. That’s what I wanted to talk with Charley about. I’m tired of being judged, and I really want to make a difference by working with parents who have a child on the spectrum. And Charley is going to help me with the children as well.”

Missy was inspired by Vivian and it really got her thinking about her own situation. A week later she asked Charley if she could talk with him about an idea.

“You know of my parents’ diet struggles,” she began. “They both went to nutrition classes but that didn’t really help that much. It was too much to learn in the time given to help them understand their diet needs. Eventually I had to be the one that made sure they kept to their diets. I have friends in the same situation. Could we do a series of nutrition classes for family members who find themselves in the same position as I am in? We could also have people who have experienced similar situations tell their stories especially how they maintained their diets of those they cared for.”

Charley responded by saying, “That’s a wonderful Idea. How did you come up with it?”

Missy described how Vivian had inspired her. Missy revealed something to Charley that became a lasting memory. “I’ve decided not to enter the homecoming queen contest. I want to focus on my grades so that I can go to college. I want to major in nutritional sciences.”

It was at that moment that Charley understood something else about the learning culture he was trying to develop. People are often inspired when they have learning role models.

Charley was forever thankful that the Learning Center was developing naturally and not according to a scripted plan. That Sunday he told his pastor that God must be looking out for him in presenting these learning opportunities in what seemed to be a natural progression.

He was surprised by his pastor’s response. “That’s wonderful. Are you ready for your next opportunity?”

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“Being a role model is the most powerful form of educating.” – John Woodman (Hall of Fame basketball coach)