I Believe Hardship Presents Opportunity

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I believe hardship presents opportunity. I am a father to three boys, a loving husband to a beautiful wife, and an educator with the awesome responsibility to instruct our youth. But my life hasn’t always been so pleasant.

When I was eighteen I graduated from high school and became the only person in my family to do so. (I went on to get my bachelor’s and master’s degrees.) While I value formal education, it’s what I learned while being raised in various housing projects that forged the person I am today.

Growing up, my family was extremely poor and even more dysfunctional. A typical day for my father consisted of sitting at our rickety kitchen table slurring drunkenly to truckers on his CB radio. My mother was a recovering heroine addict who would often hitchhike to her methadone clinic, come home, abuse prescription drugs and nod off on our dilapidated couch.

Growing up I experienced things that should have molded me into a blend of my parents, but they did the opposite. When I was nine, my mom come home bloodied and beaten after a fight with another woman over drugs. Years later, when I was in middle school, my father was sent to prison. But instead of letting myself be pulled into my parents’ distress, I decided to remove myself from my family’s downward spiral. I spent less and less time at home. Instead I stayed at friends’ houses.

From my friends, I learned about family. Many families graciously allowed me to eat, stay the night and attend holiday gatherings in their homes. I learned simple things like the smell of a freshly cleaned house and how a table looked when it was set. Positive examples from stable adults helped me to understand that a better life was possible.

Dedicated educators gave me the key to achieving this better life. My teachers taught me that opportunity lay in education. They looked past my pitfalls and instead pointed to the doors I needed to walk through in order to obtain my goals.

Now I’m a teacher. And when I interact with my students, I carry with me both the lessons I learned from my teachers and the ones I learned from my personal struggles. I know that, at any moment, I may be dealing with a child that needs me to see their potential and not their problems.

I remember seeing the news report of my father’s arrest when I was a teenager. I was sad, angry, embarrassed, and confused, but I made a promise to myself that day that I would use the hole my family dug to plant myself as a seed of hope and success. I vowed to do the opposite of what I witnessed in my home. Now that I am a father… a husband, not a day goes by that I don’t use something from my past to influence how I live my life and plan for my future. I believe in learning from hardships and creating a better life.

Comments

Catherine Koch
State college
Jan 13, 2013

This article should be posted on the front page of every newspaper in the world.  Spreading INSPIRATION, and from a man of this statue, should be the objective of types of media out there. 

I am blessed to know Bill!  Pleased WPSU recognized inspiration.

Lori Dickson
Huntingdon
Jan 20, 2013

Dear Bill:

You are an amazing father and educator. I have never had the opportunity to work with such a great guy.  I would never have thought your childhood was as challenging as you described. You always had a smile on your face and the next best project on your mind. We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.  The difference with you is that instead of looking at someone to blame…you became the father,husband,and teacher that every parent would wish for their child! Congratulations for overcoming and having touched our lives by just being a friend and co-op worker!

Noreen E. Mitchell
Kingston, Pennsylvania
Mar 07, 2013

I am truly amazed at this.  I was totally unaware of the total disadvantage you were faced with as a youngster!  I do believe that despite all of that, you not only became a wonderful, caring and amazing father and husband, but a man that anyone would be blessed to call you friend. I know that is exactly how I feel. I positive that you would have to be an inspiration for just about anyone in the world. I think a lot of the younger generations, where this unfortunately is a common occurrence, would be inspired. I am so glad that you had caring people around you to show you am example of family and what love looks like.  I, for one, am richer for knowing you and so happy that my friend has someone as wonderful as you!

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