After two months of my three month stay at a Men’s substance abuse facility in Lansing Mi I walked to The Lansing Community College and told them “I have no diploma, no GED, and would like to become a substance abuse counselor. Can you help me do that?
The pleasant young lady pointed across the student commons and asked; “do you see the double doors with the words assessment over them?” “Yes,” I replied. “You just go in there and take about five hours in tests and we credit you for what you already know and place you in classes accordingly.”
“Sounds good” I said. “Do I need to make an appointment?”
“No appointment needed,” she replied.
“Can I do it now,” I asked?
“Don’t see why not” she shrugged in reply.
After a week of being in classrooms for the first time since 1975 (24 years earlier) I was ready to bolt! Everything had to be typed on a computer and my limited experiences with computers had not been good experiences. My first class of the first semesters (an insane 22 credits) was “Intro to Computers!”
After expressing this to my writing tenured professor she and I had a long conversation about the pro’s and con’s of legalizing drugs. Having admitted to her that until about four months ago I was a homeless heroin addict she was surprised that I am Pro – Legalization.
Finally she convinced me to give it my best shot and ask her for help if I needed to. I needed too many times. Part of her intro and itinerary and syllabus was to explain that if we were looking for an easy class or a 4 point that we were in the wrong room and to drop and re apply with another instructor. She had; “not given anybody a 4 point in over four years.”
I learned a lot in that class filled with young people that I originally looked at as kids my son’s age. When I quit talking down to them they taught me a lot and many became friends.
When grading time came I had told nobody, but like a typical addict in early recovery I was determined to make the “Deans List.” So when I received a letter informing me I had made “The Presidents List” I called to college to straighten this out! The woman on the phone told me as gently as possible that I was indeed on the Dean’s List, but that the tip 1% of the Deans List makes “The Presidents List.” So I informed her it would be OK!
I wanted to go out and celebrate! I wanted to share this with the world.
Instead I went to a Narcotics Anonymous Meeting and shared my joy with whith the people that had helped me get my four point grade.
Later that summer of 2004 I was asked by the school to interview for a promotional film the school was making and bumped into my Writing 210 teacher on the green afterward. We talked a bit and she shared how she was leaving a faculty meeting, her being the Steward of the L. C. C. local. She said how “all the instructors were raving about how wonderful students are these days, that they know so much already.” She had told them “the best student” she “ever saw was a very hard working 47 year old man the past semester.”
Then I laughed and she asked me if I thought “she was joking?”
“No,” I replied. “I just got done with a taped interview and I told them you were the best teacher I ever had.”
We both just smiled at each other and said our farewells, and after a little hug went our separate ways.
Ms. W. Larrier at Lansing Community College is the best life (and writing) teacher I ever had.
Class Name: Writ 210
Class Grade: 4.0