He Turned My Life Around
--by John Inman, posted Dec 22, 2007
I am hoping that this letter finds its way to you. I am also hoping that you remember me. I was in Brent's first 7th grade class and his first 8th grade class.
Judith, I have been trying to find Brent for years and finally found the article online in the Los Altos Town Crier about Brent's memorial. I have been trying to thank him for turning my life around and was so saddened when I found that I was unable to deliver my heart felt feeling to him directly. It is important for me to deliver these same feelings to you and your family.
I do not know how many of his students have been able to communicate with you or how many feel the way I do about his impact on my life. If I may, please let me explain just how important he was for me.
Judith, when I was in 5th grade, my school first discovered that I could not yet read 1st grade materials. My parents sent me to batteries of testing, psychologists, etc. to try to figure out what the problem was. My IQ was high, but I had severe problems in learning. They discovered that I was dyslexic. Thank God I had parents that cared enough to find a solution. We visited many private schools including a military academy (I am sure glad that did not happen) and visited Brent and Ford Country Day School. This is truly the beginning of the story.
My father was a scientist and we were not an affluent family to put it mildly. When my parents sat down with Brent, he reached out to help. He arranged for my tuition to be offset by my mother driving students to school in her station wagon. I have no idea to what extent this actually off set my tuition, I do know however, without Brent reaching out to my family, my life would have taken a turn for the worst. Brent and my parents agreed to have me retake 5th grade and to start the next school year.
I can not even begin to explain the terror I experienced joining a school with such extraordinary academic standards, not being able to read, and leaving all of my friends behind, permanently. Brent's kind and loving support and that of his outstanding staff, helped me slowly learn to grow and overcome my learning disability. Ford Country Day School has become the most important turning point in my life. We had a great class and I to this day look at our class pictures and remember my fellow classmates. I often wonder how they are all doing! We were in 5th and 6th grade together. Then Brent added the 7th grade and many of us moved to the 7th grade together. Then Brent added the 8th grade and some of us moved to the 8th grade together. What an extraordinary experience. The foundation that Brent gave me, has in many ways set my direction in life. I will explain.
I went to Japan to live with my brother for one year right out of Ford Country Day School. I was in an international school in Tokyo. If I had not had the Ford experience, I would not have been able to survive the rigors of that educational experience. That was very difficult for me. My father had to go into open-heart surgery the beginning of the next year and I had to cut my stay short and come home.
The rest of my k-12 schooling was in the Palo Alto school system. When I graduated, I went to Oregon to school at Oregon State University. All I can say is that college was so difficult for me. I do not memorize well, I do not test well, and boy did I struggle. When I went, my parents simply said they would like me to try it. I am a bit pig headed and usually force my way through difficulties so after much work, I graduated with degrees in Business and in Agriculture.
I have struggled with my learning confidence for years as I watch how much easier it is for others to learn. As I have developed myself, I have developed a passion for learning and growth, and again can thank Brent for giving me the foundation to learn and grow. I am amazed at how many people do not continue to learn and grow. I have translated this passion for learning into consulting, training, and a dedication to the learning and growth of my team members. After years of self-direction in this arena, I realized that a change in focus was in order.
For years I have worked in small for-profits but have had a value and ethical system that have not been very well adapted to this arena. In 2000, I made the decision to pursue my masters degree in adult education so that I could truly help adult learners grow and excel. And based on this decision I am transforming my career to public service to try to have a positive impact on more people. Again, none of this would have ever been possible without Brent and his caring.
I am blessed with a beautiful family; my wife Hazel, my son David who will turn 13 next month, and our beautiful little girl, Kinnera, who we adopted from India last year. I believe that most of my riches are in my family. We live in the coast range in Oregon and have a little farm and 8 acres. It is a great place for my children to grow up. If you have an opportunity, you can visit my family at our web site at www.wetherhaven.com. And if you are able to call and say hi, I would love to talk with you or anyone in your family.
I count myself as one of the truly lucky people on earth having been touched by Brent's caring and love. Judith, I also have very fond memories of you and hope that you and your family are doing well. Please share my feelings with your family and please remember just how much Brent meant to so many people. Take care and wishing you the very best in life.
Thank you, john.
At fcds from 1961-1972. My brother john
Graduated from 6th grade there in 1966? I only
Attended kindergarten. My mother and
Brother are still alive if anyone wants to connect
With either one.
Reaching out like this is so meaningful. I wrote a similar heartfelt letter to an older lady friend some years ago and upon her death, her children found it and read it. Imagine my surprise when they called me to thank me for the beautiful sentiments that I had expressed to their wonderful mother. These things are not easily forgotten. So very kind of you... and as a sidenote... Your wife and I share a name (though mine is in the middle.) God Bless you and yours.