with a learning disability and went on
to win the Outstanding Developmental Educator
of the Year Award. (Buffy Smith Photo)
Outstanding Developmental Educator Overcame Her Own Disability
By Buffy Smith
JACKSONVILLE, AL -- December 2, 1998 -- A Jacksonville State University professor who struggled as a child to overcome her learning disability was recently awarded the state's highest honor for developmental educators.
Now in her 25th year at JSU, McDade was awarded the Outstanding Developmental Educator of the Year by the Alabama Association for Developmental Education.
McDade recalls that when she was in elementary school, she sat in the back of the class struggling to understand things that seemed easy for her classmates.
She said that all through high school she had to study for hours each night just to keep up. Though she was highly intelligent, scoring an outstanding 34 on her ACT exam, it was difficult for her to grasp concepts.
It wasn't until she became a graduate student at Louisiana State University that she found out she had dyslexia, a reading impairment.
"I knew that I learned differently so I had to work harder than the rest of the kids," says McDade.
"My mother used to make me turn the lights out in my bedroom at midnight, so I would go lay beside the bottom of the refrigerator and study all night, because that was the only light I could find."
McDade not only overcame her disability but has gone on to spend most of her academic career using her experiences to help learning disabled students.
She now serves as a JSU psychology professor, the acting director of Counseling and Career Services and the chairperson of the Academic Center for Excellence. McDade spends her day teaching psychology, counseling students and coaching the learning disabled.
"I realized when I first started teaching college that it was easy to teach students, but it was more of a challenge to help the motivated ones who were struggling," says McDade. "So I tell them that there are no excuses, we just have to find a way to make it work and if I can do it, anybody can."
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