During my childhood and adolescent years I grew up in very small town. I can remember thinking that I knew everyone and that everyone knew me, and if the truth were known, the majority of them did. I guess this is where you could say that my memories of literacy began. As a child I can remember myself, and many other members of my community not having the literacy skills that most of those who visited or passed through our town did. The folks that passed through were proper whereas those of us who lived in the town seemed as if we had never been outside of our little town, ever.
You hear people joke about using words such as: ain't, won't to, aren't cha, and so forth. Well, those were actual words used on a day-to-day basis in my hometown, and let's not forget all the double negatives used. As a child I can remember using the same words myself. It wasn't until I began to meet people outside of my circle of friends and neighbors that I realized that not only was our town small and living back in the 1950 s still, but the majority of our citizens were uneducated adults who did not know any better. I became interested in books at an early age I would say.
While all my friends were outside playing in the woods or riding go carts I would be inside looking at Highlight magazines or reading some of the books that my mother had bought for me at a yard sale one Saturday. I can remember the day that my parents bought my sister and I a set of encyclopedias, which came with two bonus sets. One set was a children's set of encyclopedias and the other was a set of 8-thick, colorful hardback books. My sister and I just sat there as my parents put them in a glass stand that my mother had.
One by one the put them in as while doing so they told each of us that inside each book contained many adventures for us to embark upon. I can remember loving those books so much. I can remember reading them even when I didn't have to look something up from them in school. There was such a sense of security and safety behind those books that I could look through them for hours upon hours, and then racing to beat my sister at telling my parents what I had read about.
In our hometown we had three schools, a primary school, an elementary school, and a middle school. When it was time for high school you would have to go to the next town and go to high school there. When it was my turn to go into high school I elected to go into another school district so that I could play on a softball team with my friends that I had met the summer before. When I began going to school there I often felt embarrassment at the way the I talked and the way that everyone made fun of my accent. For awhile I even chose not to speak at all unless asked to. I was so embarrassed of the way that I felt.
For the first time I was ashamed of where I grew up and the way that I spoke. I learned quickly that I had to change my vocabulary. I worked hard in my classes, especially English to get where I felt I needed to be to fit in again. As time progressed I ended up excelling in my English classes and in the end English was my favorite subject. My last two years of high school was shaped around AP lit classes, which I was very proud of and so was my family.
After graduating from high school I immediately went to college at Florida State University on an academic scholarship and was happy with my accomplishments thus far. Being the first child in my extended family to attend college was a big step. I did not want to disappoint my father, mother, or grandparents. I worked hard and did very well in my first two years of college as well.
As time passed at FSU I became bored and decided to transfer closer to home. I soon found UNF to be my new academic home. After completing my associate in arts degree I declared my major to be secondary English education. This major has at times been difficult for me to explore but I have often been overly rewarded with new thoughts and insights. I feel that my current literacy is much more than I had ever expected it to me.
Sometimes I still get embarrassed though when I go home and talk to people in my hometown. They do not understand what I am saying and well lately I can not understand what they are saying, but I would much rather be where I am today, then where I might be had my parents not been interested in the importance of my education.