A girl who has dyslexia is mocked by her classmates because she can't spell, but her teacher reminds her that she is just as smart as they are.
Life wasn't easy for Dana. The sweet, bright 12-year-old struggled with a learning disability, and as soon as her classmates became aware of it, they teased her mercilessly.
Dana felt especially vulnerable during English class when her difficulties with reading and writing became most apparent. Then one day, life became a nightmare when their teacher announced a Spelling Bee, a competition in what Dana did the worst -- spelling.
Dana's nemesis was a confident perky girl named Natalie, who seemed to take special pleasure in pointing out her mistakes, constantly mocking and teasing Dana. But Natalie had a lesson to learn, and so did Dana.
Bullied for being different | Source: Shutterstock.com
It all started on a Wednesday afternoon straight after lunch in Mr. WIllis' English class. Dana loved kindly Mr. Willis, even though she hated English. Mr. Willis was testing the class' spelling skills, and Natalie, the best speller, was showing off.
Then the moment Dama most dreaded came. Mr. Willis asked Dana to spell RESILIENT. Dana started out ok, but halfway through the word she got so nervous she inverter the letters. "Wrong!" screamed Natalie happily, "Dyslexic Dana strikes out again!"
Practicing for the Spelling Bee | Source: YouTube/ Dhar Mann
Mr. Willis was upset with Natalie and threw her a reproving look. "That's enough Natalie!" he snapped. Then he said gently to Dana: "It's all right Dana, just keep practicing."
As the children were walking out. Mr. Willis handed Dana an entry form for the Spelling Bee. Dana looked up at him with tears in her eyes. "Mr. Willis, you know I'm not smart enough to win this!"
Dana makes a mistake | Source: YouTube/ Dhar Mann
Mr. WIllis smiled. "Yes you are Dana, you are very smart. Having a learning disability doesn't mean you're not smart. only that you learn in a different way."
And Mr. Willis gave Dana a set of spelling cards to practice with. Dana walked out of the classroom feeling much better. SHe was so busy looking at the practice cards that she ran straight into Natalie.
"Dyslexic Dana!" | Source: YouTube/ Dhar Mann
Dana's precious spelling cards went flying, and Natalie saw them. "I can't believe it! Dyslexic Dana in the Spelling Bee? That's such a joke!" and she started laughing cruelly.
Dana felt a little braver, and she said: "These are my practice cards, I'm practicing, and maybe..."
Dana slowly advanced through the competition, winning challenge after challenge, until only one other competitor remained.
Dana agrees to try | Source: YouTube/ Dhar Mann
With a smirk, Natalie poured water out of her bottle all over the spelling cards. "Those WERE your practice cards, and MAYBE the whole school will see what a stupid girl you are!"
Dana was kneeling trying to pick up her soggy practice cards when Mr. Willis walked up. "What happened. Dana?" he asked.
A run in with Natalie | Source: YouTube/ Dhar Mann
"Mr. WIllis, I'm just not smart. Everyone will laugh at me. You don't know what it's like to be dyslexic."
And then Dana had one of the biggest surprises of her life. "Yes I do, Dana. I'm dyslexic too."
"You, Mr. Willis? But you're the smartest person I know!"
Practicing with Mr. Willis | Source: YouTube/ Dhar Mann
"When I was your age, I thought I wasn't smart until a teacher taught me to believe in myself. She made me see that I was smart. I'm going to teach you a trick to help you spell.
Mr. Willis started to tap his fingers on his leg. "Like this...You find a rhythm, and you start spelling. Try it, Dana. Spell RESILIENT."
In the finals of the Spelling Bee | Source: YouTube/ Dhar Mann
Dana started tapping her fingers, and spelled out: "R-E-S-I-L-I-E-N-T."
"Perfect!" cried Mr. Willis. I'm going to work with you, and you're going to enter that Spelling Bee!"
And he did. Every day, Dana practiced with Mr. WIllis, and the big day of the Spelling Bee arrived. Dana slowly advanced through the competition, winning challenge after challenge, until only one other competitor remained: Natalie.
Facing off with Natalie | Source: YouTube/ Dhar Mann
Natalie eyed Dana smirking and said: "This is going to be easy!" But Natalie's confidence ended up being her undoing. In her rush to prove herself the best, she misspelled her word.
Mr. Willis turned to Dana with a smile. "If you get this last word right, you win, Dana. Your word is, RESILIENCE!"
Victory for Dana | Source: YouTube/ Dhar Mann
Dana started spelling out the word: "R-E-S-I..." Dana choked, then she remembered the finger tapping. Tapping her fingers, she spelled: "R-E-S-I-L-I-E-N-C-E."
"You win Dana," cried Mr. Willis, "You win the Spelling Bee!"
From that day on, Dana knew that she was just as smart as anyone else, and so the rest of the class. As for Natalie, the shock of losing to Dana did her a lot of good. She started being a lot nicer, and she never picked on Dana again.
What can we learn from Dana's story?
1. Having a learning disability doesn't mean you are not smart. Dana was just as smart as her classmates, but she didn't realize it.
2. A learning disability means you learn in a different way. Dana learned learning techniques from Mr. WIllis that helped her cope with her dyslexia.
3. Don't be afraid to try. Dana was afraid to enter the Spelling Bee in case she failed. But not trying means you also rob yourself of the possibility of winning.
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Any resemblance in this story to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
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