I heard recently about a student here in Phoenix who attended Arcadia High School. Unfortunately he had struggled to learn to read in the earlier years and was always a couple years behind his classmates. School was a real challenge, his grades were never very good, he was a victim of frequent bullying, and people called him “lazy."
But his parents were incredibly supportive all along the way. They helped him through school as well as they could, and they encouraged a positive work ethic. At the same time, they made it possible for him to pursue various non-academic interests, which included hanging out with his friends and making amateur movies -- including one that was set somewhere near Sky Harbor airport.
Eventually, as part of a film class at Arcadia, this kid produced an entire full-length film -- pretty impressive for a high school student! He eventually decided he enjoyed moviemaking so much that he decided to leave college to start working in film production. Maybe you have heard of him? His name is Steven Spielberg.
Yes, Academy Award winning director Steven Spielberg made a full-length movie while at Arcadia High. Now in his late 60s, Mr. Spielberg discovered recently why he struggled so much in school: it turns out he has dyslexia, and he’s begun to speak openly about it.
In the years since Mr. Spielberg was a teenager hanging out here in the desert with his friends, the medical and scientific research into dyslexia has exploded. We are realizing that, like Mr. Spielberg, many people with dyslexia have absolutely incredible visual and creative abilities - among others. As their parents, we must continue to look for and nurture our children’s interests and passions and not get too hung up on “fixing” them. I don’t know about you, but I can hardly even imagine what it would have been like to grow up without JAWS, Close Encounters, E.T., Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jurassic Park -- to name only a few!
From my standpoint as a parent, the lesson here is not, “hey, my child with a learning difference could change the world and become rich and famous!” (Although that wouldn’t be too bad!). But if my child finds something she loves to do, and she feels competent in doing it, in my view, that is true success --and it will be rivaled only by my pride in her.