Tuesday, 3 May 2011

ANOTHER Unforgettable SUPERVISOR.

In my previous post, I mentioned a supervisor at Jericho Hill School for the Deaf and Blind who made me wait in her car for an hour and all for wearing the wrong sort of shoes. Among the apathetic or downright hostile personnel at that institution, a few actually cared about us boys.

From Deliverance From Jericho (Six Years in a Blind School), I present this story of how one man took the time to encourage me, even though I didn't appreciate it at the time. In this excerpt, I returned to the institution after going home for Easter. This man helped me face another ten-week exile from my family in Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta.

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A new weekday supervisor appeared at the dorm. I liked him immediately. Mr. Duberry was a relatively young, dark-haired gentleman from England. His accent made it hard at first for us to understand what he said. This led to more of the same humorous confusion of terms as we had with Mrs. Fletcher. One example was when I showed him a plastic ball which I painted with model paint. He kept pronouncing the word "bowl" which caused me to wonder how bowls related to my handiwork.

Mr. Duberry treated us equitably and took an interest in our personal growth. I must admit he did annoy me with his lectures at times. When I complained about the school and how I wished I was home, he would invariably say, "There are worse places for a lad to be than here. Make something of yourself and look on the bright side of life. Use your initiative and take advantage of your opportunities. You have your whole life ahead of you."

I remained silent and stared at the floor when he made statements like those. His advice changed nothing in my world. This man was free to go wherever he pleased whereas I had no choice but to attend Jericho.

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In July of 1968, Mr Duberry wrote my parents. In his letter, he urged them to remove me from that school because it was destroying my character. I also received an anonymous document condemning abuses of power at Jericho. I suspect it was written by this decent gentleman. Since he was replaced by a mean-spirited supervisor in September, I suspect that the administration fired him for not protesting their dishonesty.

Deliverance from Jericho contains many more vignettes of what life was like in that government-run institution. These range from poignant experiences of homesickness to hilarious incidents of mischief. Click here to read more about this book and to order it. You may also e-mail me directly if the comment form doesn't work.