The Story of Mary Ann. Returning to school after 60 years.

MaryAnn Swank

Stacy Giberson was able to recently talk with Mary Ann Swank and listen to her story about returning to school. This is from their conversation.

After decades of consistent requests or as she tells it, persistent nagging, Mary Ann Swank has been meeting with a teacher to learn how to spell, read, write, and count. Currently, Mary Ann is on summer break and plans to return to her education instruction on September 7. Mary Ann speaks with pride of accomplishment and great appreciation for her teacher, Candice Williams.
I asked Mary Ann why she choose to return to school to learn and her response was that she is tired of not being able to read things, especially in a store. Mary Ann also likes to read books and wants to grow to eventually have more choices, and really likes Stephen King. She readily admits that she chooses her books by looking at the cover.
Mary Ann shared that her and her twin sister, spent the beginning of her life in Akron, Ohio and attended school regularly until around age 10. Being African American, Mary Ann has experienced her share of adversity and segregation. Because of this it’s left her with the feeling that she was not given opportunities to learn as a child, to learn as other children, because of her race.
Mary Ann said that she has been wanting to learn how to read and write, which she has ask for all her life. When she entered her current program, Mary Ann identified, “they finally listened”, and followed through with her requests.
I asked how learning is going and Mary Ann said, “writing is going good”. Mary Ann also said she is writing some sentences, in fact, that just a week prior to our discussion she was able to read a product sign in the store while she was looking around in the kitchen section.
Candice Williams is a retired grade schoolteacher who has been teaching Mary Ann. Mary Ann said, “she doesn’t rush you; she goes to your level and is sweet”. Mary Ann is looking forward to returning to school after her summer break and has advice to anyone who is thinking about going back to school. She say’s “go for it, you’re never going to know till you try. You may get frustrated, but if you do, just forget about it for a little while and then try again.”


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