National Right to Read Foundation
Right to Read Report
Grandfather Learns to Read
When the school bells rang in September 1992, Gerald LeBlanc watched the yellow busses carry eager first graders to their classes. The happy chatter of young voices reminded Mr. LeBlanc of the day many years ago when he walked to school from his home in Louisiana with the same expectation these children had that they would be taught to read.
A Long Journey
But on that day, as Gerald LeBlanc watched the eager children on their way to school, he couldn't help but wonder how many of them would suffer the same frustration that had followed him for the forty-seven years of his life. Because, you see, Gerald LeBlanc couldn't read. He had married, started a family, a successful business and was now a grandfather, but he had not even been able to read a bedtime story to his children.
He had tried several adult education program, without success. Should he try once more? A friend had recommended a program at Griffin Tech Adult Literacy in Georgia where he now lived, but was it worth it? Should he endure the humiliation, the pain once again? Yes, he would try again. He had to succeed.
A Program That Works
The program at Griffin Tech was called We All Can Read. Students were taught the sounds of the letters and how those letters combine to make words. Some called it phonics.
Gerald LeBlanc courageously began again, step-by-step, letter-by-letter, sound-by-sound, word-by-word, and this time it worked. After attending evening classes for nine weeks, Gerald LeBlanc could read! He could hardly believe it. At forty-seven years of age, and now a grandfather, he finally achieved his dream.
At a graduation ceremony in December 1992, Gerald LeBlanc was the featured speaker, and to the cheers and tears of friends and family, he read his speech, haltingly at first, but finishing with the confidence that comes from success.
Gerald LeBlanc, his dream came true. Now he could visit his grandchildren back home in Louisiana, and for the first time in his life, read them a bedtime story before he tucked them into bed.
Congratulations, Mr. LeBlanc. Your story is an inspiration and a challenge to all of us. The good news is we all can read. We just need to be taught.