Guest Blog by Ms. Nora Glenn, GMC English teacher:
I am an English teacher at Gary Middle College. We are a second-chance high school. Our students are driven. They may have families and jobs, but they CHOOSE to come to our school everyday to get that long-deferred high school diploma. Let me tell you about one of our students, John E. Beard III.
I put notices on my door about different community events and contests for the students. I know they are overloaded with life in general, but I feel that they should have the opportunity to get involved in extra-curricular projects if they choose. I put up the article announcing the Congressional Art Competition on my door. It included all the information, rules, etc. I really didn’t think anybody noticed.
On the day that the artwork was due to Visclosky’s office, John brought in his paints and his pad of watercolor paper. I asked him why. He said he wondered if anyone else would like to enter the contest. He wanted to share his materials. He then produces his work; I was blown away. We all were blown away. (You can see John and his painting in the attached photos taken by Frank Dranchak.) We filled out all the paperwork, and I drove his work to Visclosky’s office in Merrillville.
Later, we received an invitation to attend the reception at the Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk Park. As much as I begged John to call off work, he wouldn’t. He works 3 to midnight at an industrial site just minutes from the Riverwalk. Adrienne Williams and I attended the reception for John. I talked to Congressman Visclosky at length about John, a 36-year old GMC student who will be receiving his high school diploma at our June 6th graduation. Pete wrote a note to John on a brochure from the event. Adrienne and I gathered a bag of delicious treats for John from the reception. We collected his award, his art, and his ribbon.
The next morning at school, we gave John all his goodies. He was so happy; I know he wished he could have been there. But John is not all about accolades. He is a self-motivated, driven and talented individual. As always, my students inspire me and end up teaching me more than I teach them.