By Cindie Travis. (November 2003)
My husband, Tim Travis, has Dyslexia and it has haunted him all of his
life. He struggled though high school scraping by on D's. At Indiana
University he earned an undergraduate degree in Physical Education. He
barely made it through that as well. It was at Indiana University that he
met a professor who noticed his trouble in reading and spelling and
suggested that he get tested for learning disabilities. When he found out
that he is Dyslexic everything changed.
Tim became so interested in helping others with learning disabilities
that he earned a Masters of Education in Special Education At Northern
Arizona University. There he made straight A's. What a difference knowing
the truth makes.
Tim became a Special Education teacher working with students with
learning disabilities. He was brilliant. He told his students that they have
the same our similar problems as himself. "We are all in the same boat." He
told the students to never use it as an excuse to quit when things get
difficult or let it stand in the way of their dreams. He was an example of
how you can be successful with Dyslexia. Instead of telling the kids how
"they" should deal with "their" situation he spoke of how "we" have to deal
with "our" situation and the kids and parents really responded. When I would
visit his classroom the kids would tell me that "Mr. Travis is the first
teacher that I have known that actually understands what we are going
through." and "If Mr. Travis can go to college so can I." He was a big
advocate of using computers to correct spelling, enlarge text, change
background colors, Etc. He was using computerized reading and voice
recognition - writing software with the kids long before anyone else in the
school district had ever heard of it. He had dreams of earning a Doctorate
in this field of study.
Sadly the school administration did not see his gifts. The day that he
was observed for his evaluation by the principal he misspelled a word on the
chalkboard. This was not uncommon and he had a deal with the students that
if you could catch him misspelling a word and could prove it in the
dictionary that you won some kind of reward. The students would all have
their dictionaries out checking different words trying to win the prize. The
fact that a student pointed out his mistake alarmed the principal the most.
The principal was upset that Tim could not spell correctly in front of
his students. This led to a bad evaluation. Several other complaints
followed like bad hand writing and disorganization. Next, the other teacher
jumped in to gain favor with the administration. The computer teacher was
upset that his classroom had more advanced computers and software than his.
Tim got all of his computers and software donated and connected them
together in the first classroom network in the district. The computer
teacher did not like being shown up. He was only teaching typing.
Well, Tim only lasted two years before they refused to renew his contract
and he was out. The students and their parents in his classes complained and
asked the principal to keep him. On his last day several students cried and
said that "This is just more proof that someone like me will never make it
in life - why try - look what happened to Mr. Travis" That was 6 years ago.
This killed his self esteem. In that time he has been unemployed or worked
other jobs well below his ability.
Tim has always been very creative and thinks outside of the box. It is a
long story but he planned and arranged a trip of a lifetime for us. We are
now traveling around the world by bicycle. We saved money to travel for
several years but during our first year Tim built a impressive