AT Success Stories - Trad Teal
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Tradd Teal with his family in Sept 2007
Driven. Determined. Accomplished. Generous
By Jacque Stonehocker, RFB&D Volunteer
My first introduction to Tradd was by way of a list of his awards, activities and accomplishments, provided by his mom, Elizabeth. He recently became an Eagle Scout after working for months, upgrading a park in Myrtle Beach by coordinating the addition of an irrigation system, new sod and picnic areas. The Myrtle Beach Women’s Club Park gained over 3000 square feet of leisure area, thanks to Tradd. It was quite an accomplishment - but not his only accomplishment.
Tradd is a member of the National Honors Society, National Beta Club, Math Honor Society, Science Honor Society and is a Senior Acolyte of the First Presbyterian Church. He has been awarded the Governor’s Citizenship Award and the Carolina Forest High School Track Team Academic Award. He is listed in Who’s Who In American High Schools, is a Palmetto Boy’s State Delegate, served as Junior Class President and was elected the school’s “Sweetheart King”. Tradd serves the community by volunteering for Habitat for Humanity. He credits his parents and grandparents with teaching him the importance of giving back to the community. Because, he says, “I know we are fortunate to have so much – I realize that comes with responsibility. I plan to always try to help other people.” Tradd continues to serve through his work with the Boy Scouts of America and for his school’s National Honor Society.
You may wonder, as I did, if this service-minded young man ever has time to simply have some fun. I can assure you - he knows how to play just as hard as he works. Tradd loves to kneeboard, working to jump those waves ever higher, much like he continually strives to do his best in every other endeavor. He also loves to travel: Berlin, Germany, Austria and Argentina are among his favorite places to visit.
How does he accomplish so much? Tradd answers that question clearly when he says, “I have dyslexia, I have to work harder – I know I have to work harder, so I do.” And he affirms what we’ve quickly learned about him when he states, “I won’t let the way I learn hold me back.”
Initially, Tradd used the books on tape and CD for schoolwork only, but now he also uses them for pleasure reading. Before RFB&D, he needed to have his mom or dad read his assignments to him. But now, he says, “I have control. I can decide when to do my work and I don’t have to have anyone help me!” That was an exciting turning point in his academic career. He realizes that school would have been much harder without RFB&D’s help. He says it takes him “three times as long” as his friends to read something and that he knows homework would have been “a lot tougher” without the help of RFB&D.
It’s my belief that anything would be a lot tougher without Tradd’s indomitable spirit and drive - not just to succeed - but to enjoy life to the fullest.
Tradd’s school experience paralleled that of many children: the initial frustration, followed by an intense desire to overcome their reading challenges, and, finally, victory! The miracle happened for Tradd in the fourth grade. His mom remembers his teacher, Mrs. Harriet Clark, making Tradd feel “just as bright as any student she had.” That pivotal year, Tradd read aloud in front of Mrs. Clark’s class, through tears of joy.
Elizabeth says, “Kids like Tradd don’t want easier work – they want the same work – they just might need that work to be presented in a different format.” She urges parents to be “the number one advocate for their child – no one will do it like a parent!” She explains, “Unfortunately, many teachers don’t understand dyslexia. We have to help build awareness.”
Tradd has done exactly that, through his determination and continued success, backed up by a great support team to encourage him along the way. Elizabeth says, “Ralph and I worked hard to make Tradd understand that his reading disability was not something to be ashamed of. We always told him that it was a part of who he was. I tell him that he can’t change the way his brain works any more than he can change the color of his eyes. Since he was really young he had a great support group – we all tried to build him up as much as possible. The change that RFB&D made for Tradd was that he had extra self-confidence.”
What is Tradd’s advice to other students? “Work hard – know that it won’t be easy…but it can be done! Don’t be afraid to ask for help.”
Tradd is preparing to graduate from high school and apply to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His father and grandfather went to college there – and he’s anxious to proudly follow in their footsteps. There’s no doubt in my mind that he’ll succeed. And lookout! Whoever follows in Tradd’s footsteps will have some pretty big shoes to fill.