I was recently reading a wonderful piece by Dr. Ned Hallowell on the power of positive reinforcement for children with ADD and ADHD. It made me think about a time in my life when I experienced a similar-type experience.
As the saying goes (and I wrote about it here), sometimes negative situations can turn into positive ones with a little faith. In my case, it came my freshman year of high school. School presented its difficulties to me, so in response I would often times act-out in class and create disruptions. While it wasn’t appropriate to the classroom setting, it was difficult for me to stay focused on a subject. Very few of my educators understood a lot about ADD and ADHD. Instead of working with me, they would ridicule me to my peers, parents and other educators.
I attended Niles North High School in Skokie, Illinois. It is about 15 minutes north of Chicago and about 20 minutes from my current home in Northbrook. At my parent’s first conference at my high school, the first few teachers were very negative. It got to a point where my parents were considering placing me in a private school. Then my parents met with my English teacher Dr. Livingston (and I am not making this up). My dad started off with what bad things are you going to tell me about my son? Dr. Livingston spent the whole session praising me and my abilities. When my parents came home that night, they shared the story about Dr. Livingston and his positive feelings about my work.
From that day forward, I worked extra hard in class. So much so that I was moved from a lower-level English class to an honor’s class by my Junior year. Having a teacher believe in me made all the difference in the world. His class wasn’t easier, but I made sure I didn’t let Dr. Livingston down.
I’m not sure where life has brought Dr. Livingston, but I really owe him such a huge Thank You for believing in me…it has stayed with me a very long time.
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