It is no small accomplishment to have graduated at the very top of the bottom third of my high school class (1966). With all of 16 credits I did not merit a New York State Regent’s diploma. The truth is, I wouldn’t have graduated at all but for a largely unappreciated “over the hill” math teacher, Roland Reade. Somehow, the “light turned on” in the middle of my junior year and with God’s help and Mr. Reade, I became a learner.
Mr. Reade taught me not so much about plane geometry as he did about motivating students to reach their highest potential. He was more concerned about his students as persons than he was about their ability to perform academically. He cared about the low achiever as much as he did the high achiever. For a student who had not been considered “college material” that was all I needed to become a learner.
Then in the Spring of the same year, I began the discipline of reading one chapter of Proverbs each day. And, on the fourth of April, these words leapt off the page:
“Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go: keep her; for she is thy life.” Proverbs 4:13 KJV
Suddenly, I knew my mission in life was to be both a learner and a teacher of the Scriptures. The convergence of events that junior year with what I sensed was God’s calling, transformed my life. And it was reinforced most unexpectedly on the day I graduated from Philadelphia College of Bible, now Cairn University.
On Saturday May 8th, 1971, dressed in cap and gown, I walked over to the Sheraton Hotel in Center City Philadelphia. As I was about to step on the elevator which would take me up to the Ballroom for college commencement ceremonies, who do you suppose was stepping off that very elevator? Mr. and Mrs. Roland Reade! It gives me chills to this day!
We greeted one another and it took him a minute to remember who I was. I hadn’t seen him for six years.
But, to this day, I don’t know for whom God meant this timely encounter. Was it for me, or was it for him? Methinks, it was surely an affirmation of the investment he made in the lives of students like me, one which was very much under-appreciated in Mineola. But it also spoke to me of God’s ways with those who trust in Him. To fulfill His calling for my life, God knew I needed a Roland Reade and at just the right time. Soli Deo Gloria!