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A short autobiography

Written by Verne R. Sanford. Posted in Uncategorized

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Published on April 06, 2011 with No Comments

by Verne R. Sanford

I was in second grade and I couldn’t read the blackboard. Even standing near the board didn’t help, and it was totally embarrassing. As time went by, teachers gave me special help and mom read my assignments out loud. Even at that young age, I became a good listener, an invaluable attribute later in my teaching career.

By the time I retired from Valparaiso University in 1993, I had gone from merely “Verne” all the way to professor, then on to professor emeritus, and now I’m back to Verne. All those years, people were unselfish with their help and still are today, so I’m still asking.

I found grade school to be easy thanks to much help from teachers and mom. High school required much more reading. Mom kept reading, and I listened – did I ever listen! I was able to graduate with my class, an exciting day for me. I recall my poor grades of Cs and Ds in high school math, certainly not the preparation I needed for teaching college mathematics

“Get a good education,” my father told me over and over again. “Many jobs will be closed to you, so get as much education as you can.” I took his advice and earned a bachelor’s degree, two master’s degrees and the Ph.D. Each day was a challenging process of adaptation, but good listening habits and lots of human assistance got me through.

As technology advanced, I used a talking calculator and computer. An electronic enlarger helped me prepare lessons, grade papers, read mail, and the like. Eyeglasses with strong magnification permitted me to write assignments and examinations, grade, and write checks – as long as each was held one inch from the lens. Years before that, I had used a jeweler’s lens to read tiny subscripts and exponents. I still use most of these helpful “gadgets” today.

Writing was never a problem. It was reading that was difficult or impossible. Abnormally large characters helped, so I tried grocers’ grease pencils, crayons, carpenters’ pencils and, later, amazing felt markers.

I inscribed book pages with large black page numbers, and various words or symbols written in strategic places, allowing me to more easily use a textbook in front of a class. I could usually see a waving hand begging a question. Students helped me locate equations I had “lost” somewhere on the blackboard. Their cooperation in all ways was phenomenal.

Nowadays I share time with my wife of 52 years, my five children and 14 grandchildren, my woodworking hobby, writing poems, stories and articles for publication, writing memoir stories, giving public lectures on macular degeneration and how to live successfully with low vision and leading two local low vision support groups.

Without the generous assistance of my students, colleagues, family members, townspeople and everyone around me, I know the success I’ve enjoyed in my teaching career and in my life, would have been so much less. How does one properly thank them?

I’ll always wonder what all these people looked like!

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About Verne R. Sanford

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All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Chronicle. Verne R. Sanford, 75, is professor emeritus of mathematics at Valparaiso University. He retired in 1993 and is currently writing his 24th memoir story. He is president of Valparaiso Low Vision Support Group Inc. He and his wife of 52 years, Marie, have five children and 14 grandchildren. Contact him at 219-464-1867, visit www.valpolowvisionsupport.org or e-mail verne.sanford@valpo.edu.

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