By: Terry McDermott
My name is Terry McDermott. I am a husband, father, teacher, veteran, and mentor for others. Although self-confidence comes easy for me today, growing up was another story. I was the scrawny, pimple faced kid who was lost and had no direction. To make matters worse, I had a learning disability (later diagnosed as an auditory processing disorder); therefore, school was difficult for me.
Grade school was okay; however, middle school scarred me enough where I remember it today like it happened yesterday. Walking down the halls involved being punched, spit on, ridiculed…the list goes on. On occasion, walking home involved the same treatment without the security of knowing that an adult may “save” me from the embarrassment…of being me (I could go on for hours with detailed and humiliating stories)
I didn’t know how long I was going to be able to last…live. Being in fear everyday is not something I wanted; however, it was what I was used to. Turning to my parents would only make matters worse. All I wanted was to be like everyone else…but I was different and I knew it. Wanting to live became a burden.
“You will never go anywhere, and you will never make anything of yourself” were words spoken to me by a teacher during my freshman year in high school…my only year. My behavior and bad habits led my parents to send me to Minnesota for an entire school year. When I returned home, I dropped out of school and eventually earned my G.E.D. Years later, I joined the United States Army and served in the 82nd Airborne Division. My life, for the first time, changed for the better.
I had finally found something I was good at. For me, moving away and adapting to military life was easy. I needed routine, I liked it, and I excelled at it. The army taught me an abundance of self-confidence, plenty of discipline, the importance of an education, and most importantly…it made me who I am today.
No one should ever have to live in fear of others, live in fear of going to school, or question why they should continue living. Becoming an educator, a special educator, has given me the rare opportunity to work with students and help them understand that they are not alone. Life is not easy, especially growing up. Helping to make life more tolerable for others and making them feel important keeps me going. If this post only reaches and helps one person, I have succeeded.
Story about Terry as reported by NBC 4 Ohio:
Teacher Once Bullied Now An Inspiration For Students
Posted: Nov 08, 2012 4:59 PM EST
By Cabot Rea
WESTERVILLE, Ohio — A former Westerville middle-school student, who was once bullied so severely that they never finished high school, makes a comeback to serve as a teacher, mentor, and role model to young adults facing bulling or other challenges in school.
Terry McDermont works as a History and English intervention teacher at Olentangy Orange High School; but his journey there was not an easy one.
Terry says his eighth grade picture from a Westerville middle school shows the eyes of a defeated and lonely boy.
“Literally, everyday, I was told I was ugly,” said Terry. “I was a small scrawny kid, with bright red hair.”
Terry says the kids in his school punched and spit on him.
Terry was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) and an auditory learning disability.
He was sent to another school where he says his discipline resulted in him being sent to a behavioral school in Minnesota for nine months. After he returned, Terry dropped out of school and began working odd jobs and hanging out with the wrong crowd.
That all changed when he turned 21.
“I happened to wake up, and saw a commercial for the Army…’Be all you can be’…and I just said, I’m out of here.”
Terry enlisted and served four years in the 82nd Airborne and did two tours in Kosovo.
He says his self esteem soon returned and he gained new friends, but it wasn’t enough.
After his service, Terry decided he wanted to help other avoid what he went through; that’s when he became a teacher.
Now, many students say they turn to Terry – Mr. McDermott – for advice.
Sophomore Ben Schwab says he was bullied into a fight last year. He says Mr. McDermott is not just a teacher but a friend to students dealing with bullying.
Like Ben, Senior Ben Heilman knows Mr. McDermott as a teacher, wrestling coach, and a mentor. “If I’ve ever been down with grades or sports, he tells me to keep going and never stop.”
Terry has turned his battle against bullying into hope for those in depth of ridicule or self-doubt.
“Don’t look down, persevere. Find someone to talk to – there is always a way out,” Terry tells his students.
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