Have you ever noticed that people with what could be some of the biggest challenges are the ones who make the fewest excuses and inspire us the most? Sam Hogle is blind, but has a joy for life that is inspiring.
Hogle attended Mount Paran Christian School 2005-2009, and then attended Kennesaw State University, where he received a bachelor’s degree. He went on to earn a master’s degree in social work, with a concentration in behavioral health. Hogle also has found a way to use his blessings to help children.
Hogle visits MPCS every Wednesday for an alternative reading program with lower school students. Hogle always is accompanied by his guide dog, Flash, who cannot interact with students, because he must focus on guiding Hogle. His former guide dog, Mason, is the key player for this fantastic program. Hogle brings Mason to the lower school, where students in kindergarten and first grade, who need to improve their reading skills, read books to Mason.
When students read to Mason, they are less anxious than when they read to an adult, because they know no one will correct them, and being around Mason lowers their anxiety level. The experience is fun, so students begin to connect reading with something enjoyable, and they develop a deeper love of reading because of that.
“What I want people to know is that there is nothing special about me,” said Hogle. “We all have our differences, and mine just happens to be blindness. It doesn’t stop me from living life, unless I allow it to.”
It does not take long to realize Hogle is very special. His involvement with the reading program not only helps young readers gain confidence with a critical skill, but also teaches students about servant leadership and resiliency. Hogle’s positive approach shows them that life is full of joys and struggles, but what matters is the attitude you have about them.
The children also are learning about braille, as well as what service dogs are capable of doing.
Lower school counselor Dana Gray says, “Sam [Hogle] is gentle and kind, and he is boosting the self-esteem of many lower school students, who were at one time intimidated by reading aloud. They are also learning about what Sam has overcome to learn to read, despite his vision deficiency.”
Programs like the one at Mount Paran allow educators to step outside the box to find innovative, creative ways to reach our young students. The attitude that students can learn through different methods opens the door to try new things, to give all of our students a chance to be successful.
– Jennifer Bonn, teacher at Mount Paran Christian School