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Oh, Susan,

Bless you for expressing so clearly how this ol' idealistic broad feels
education ought to function!  There ARE more frustrating things in life
that unmotivated students.  You gave several examples from your own
experience, so here are a couple of mine.  I came from a family where Mom
was an alcoholic and chronically depressed (untreated because of the
stigma attached).  Dad was hardly ever home, but when he was he funnelled
all Mom's gripes about us into "family discussions" that never went
anywhere because our opinions were never respected, only ridiculed.  I
grew up, married an emotionally abusive and perfectionistic man who
thought "education is  a waste of time for women; all they need is
secretarial school."  I got a divorce and remarried a man who was much
more supportive of my personal growth.  One slight problem, though.  He,
like my mom, was alcoholic and depressed.  His several (unsuccessful
stints in an alcohol treatment hospital contributed to my own clinical,
suicidal depression.

I got lucky, though,  I was referred to our state's Department of
Vocational Rehabilitation, where I had a wonderful, caring counselor.  She
advocated for me as I was unable to do so for myself and on their dime I
began college.  Because of my illness, I was required to go through our
Special Student Services department, where, again, I had a wonderful
counselor who was my shoulder to cry on and my cheerleader while I
struggled with returning to school, medicated to the hilt (which scrambled
my brain big time!).  I also was fortunate enough to have wonderful
teachers early on.  These folks bent over backwards to help me understand
the material, forgave me when I was too depressed to show up for class for
two weeks straight, and never, ever, told me I was "too stupid to learn."

My Special Services counselor went out on a limb and recommended me for a
clerical job here at TVI, and I never looked back.  When an opening arose
for a part-time English tutor in Special Services, she again recommended
me for it, and I haven't looked back.

In short, Uncle Sam had to foot the bill for me, too!  And it saved my
life, LITERALLY, not just figuratively.  I owe the institute for which I
work more than I can say.  I owe it to students to help them understand
that they CAN succeed.  They CAN develop personal motivation and positive
mental attitudes.

Many times students act out because of inner insecurities and lack of
faith in themselves.  My job is to help them resolve the insecurities and
learn how to develop their self-esteem.  They, too, need a cheerleader who
has "unconditional positive regard" (another Sociology buzz word!) for
them, just as my counselors had for me!   Remember the "Footprints" poem?
Many people "carried me across the sand" when I was unable to walk by
myself.  I can do no less than shoulder my share of the load now that I
can!

Peggy Keller
English Instructional Technician
Assistance Centers for Education
Albuquerque Technical Vocational Institute
525 Buena Vista SE
Albuquerque, NM  87106