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Inspiring story of Wayne Baltzer

My Life Story

My brother and I were held back until we were six years of age because we had a speech problem. Then I got to grade two and had a very troubled teacher who disliked boys. On top of that I was sitting at the back of the class and I was having visual problems; also I was very shy. Because of that I couldn’t proceed to the next grade. After my second year in grade two I was sent to get a cat scan because they thought because of head aches I was having, I could possibly have a tumour. But they realized that the entire time I was having headaches and trouble seeing it was because I really needed glasses.

After finally getting glasses I went through grades 3,4, and 5. At the end of grade six the school was not going to let me proceed to the next grade, but I was given an option to take a new program held at Horton High School. I only had a grade two literacy level when I was in grade six, so going through the 7,8 adjusted classes was very difficult for me, but I got through and made it to grade 9. Only three days into grade nine, I was told I had to write a composition and then stand up and read it in front of the class. I wasn’t ready for this and ended up getting frustrated. I left everything behind in my locker and never went back.

While at school I also caddied at a local golf course and held a part-time job at the IGA store in New Minas. Because of low self-esteem I started drinking when I was a young teenager (age 14). The summer of 1976, I started to look for work. By September 1976 I finally got a job at Scotian Gold as a general labourer; I worked for three years doing seasonal work and then was laid-off at the first of May (for the summer). On May 19, 1979 my future father in-law told me about a summer job at the Ralston Purina mill to do a little painting. As time went on I started unloading train cars, doing quality control and finally doing purchasing. I worked at the mill for twenty-five years.

I am married with three children and have my own home. As a hobby I started doing genealogy about 14 years ago. I also was a scout leader for four years from 1994 to 1998. In 1996 I went to the grade 5 camp because my daughter was in grade 5, so I went to help. I took a week off that year and also in 1997,1998,1999. and 2004 to help out and be a cabin leader and do other things.

In 2000 I started working on a map of Centreville of 1871 to 1881 to show people what Centreville looked like in the early years. (You can see this at the Centreville Hall) In 2000 I started a group called Burial Grounds Care Society. We locate old forgotten burial grounds such as the old poor farms in Greenwich and in Billtown.               

For a long time I would not tell anyone about the troubles that I had. I thought people might think that I was stupid.

In the winter of 1991 I took the 40-hour course for preparation for G.E.D, but I found it very difficult and didn’t try again for another nine years. I started to tell a few friends about my learning problems and some of them encouraged me to get help. I was very nervous but I didn’t look back. I went to a meeting where the people were talking about adult literacy. Then in November 2001 I went and got tested to see what level I was at. I was lined up with a tutor and we worked together for a year. We used to meet in his truck in the parking lot at the movie theatre because there was nowhere else to go. Then he decided that he couldn’t do any more for me so we stopped. We are still friends to this day.

I was asked if I would like to be tutored in a group of people or one on one and I chose one on one because I would be too nervous with a group. In Jan. 2003 I was matched up with a new tutor and we worked on the Laubach Way To Reading Books 2,3, and 4 then the Voyager book for reading and writing, and Focus on Phonics 1,2, 3.  We also read some books: A Victorian Lady’s Album, Kate Shannon’s Halifax & Boston Diary of 1892 and The Good News For Modern Man. This last book was one that I got when I went to Sunday school as a boy. We read Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

After 24 years at the Feed Mill I was laid off in June 2003, because of downsizing. This came as a shock to me. I received a year’s severance package that was paid weekly for a year. Then in Oct. 2003 I was called back again because they were short-handed and then was laid off again in Oct. 2004. After that I applied for 4 different jobs but was rejected because I didn’t have a grade 12 or G.E.D.

I was walking in town one day and saw Peter Gillis from KCLA (now it is called Valley Community Learning Association – VCLA – since they started working in Annapolis County), and he called me in to chat. We talked about the adult learning classes that they provide there. I took a test and was put in level one but after three or four weeks I was moved to the level two class with Joy Power. On Feb. 04, 2005 my severance package was stopped and I had to quit the classes and find a job so I could support my family. I did continue to work with my tutors.

I wrote my G.E.D. in April 15 and 16, 2005 but I didn’t pass. I kept on with my tutor two nights a week.

Most employers require grade 12, so if there wasn’t a place like VCLA how would people like me who haven’t completed grade 12, get help to write their G.E.D. so that they could get a steady job?

In 2005 when I was on unemployment, they sent me over to the Valley Disability Partnership Society. The Employment Office said I would find a job better with them so I went. I met the lady at the front desk (Cheyenna ) and after meeting with me she said that she thought I had dyslexia but she wasn’t the doctor. She made me an appointment with Dr. Emily Freeman and she agreed that I did have dyslexia.

June 21,26,27 I wrote my G.E.D again, but this time with tapes so I could hear the words better and I passed all of them but one (the essay) – I missed that one by 10 points. So I started to get tutored in that one subject: Language Arts, Writing. I wrote that final exam Nov. 28, 2006, and passed it. I now have my GED!

Now the world is mine, the door has been opened at last. In March 24, 2007 I had a thank you party for every one that had helped me on my way to get my GED. I have been trying to give back to the VCLA a little. I gave two courses on how to start your Family Tree and the money I charge goes back to VCLA.

With my GED certificate I was able to get an interview with Michelin Tire, and on Feb. 12 2007 I was hired! I have worked there ever since.

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