Category: Why This Website?


Avi

Avi: award winning author of more than 70 books for children and young adults.

Born:  December 23, 1937

Avi is best known for his numerous awards in Children’s Literature.  Two of his most famous works, True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle and Nothing But the Truth won both the Newberry Award and the Boston Globe Horn Book Award and are read by thousands of school children each year.  These two books, along with five others by Avi, are currently on the American Library Association’s Notable Books List.

Born into a family of authors, Avi struggled in school during most of his childhood.  He remembers,

Since writing was important to my family, friends, and school, it was important to me. I wanted to prove that I could write. But it took years before I had a book published.

After he failed every class in high school, his parents placed him in a small private school where he could receive special tutoring in reading and writing.  It was his tutor, Ella Ratnor, who inspired him to write books for children.  Today he encourages others who struggle.

Listen and watch the world around you. Try to understand why things happen. Don’t be satisfied with answers others give you. Don’t assume that because everyone believes a thing it is right or wrong. Reason things out for yourself. Work to get answers on your own. Understand why you believe things. Finally, write what you honestly feel, then learn from the criticism that will always come your way.

George Clooney

George Clooney: American actor.

Born: May 6, 1961

When George Clooney played a pediatrician on ER, he had plenty of experience with children’s doctors to draw from.  Stricken as a child with Bell’s Palsy, he spent months with part of his face paralyzed.

That was the worst time of my life.  You know how cruel kids can be. I was mocked and taunted, but the experience made me stronger.

As a young man, it was not so much that he found acting but that acting found him

I didn’t even want to be an actor.  I was just hanging out with my cousin.

He got a small part in a movie and that opened doors for him.

I rented my car, a Monte Carlo, to them and got fifty bucks a day. They gave me a part as an extra. And Miguel said, Come to L.A. and be an actor. I had just spent the summer cutting tobacco, which is a miserable job. So that’s what made me move to Hollywood.

To other young people considering acting he offers this warning.

When you’re young you believe it when people tell you how good you are. And that’s the danger, you inhale. Everyone will tell you you’re a genius, which you are not, and if you understand that, you win.

Martin Nigel Davey

Martin Nigel Davey: Writer and actor.

When he first started acting, Martin Davey was told that, because he had trouble with reading in school, he could never act.

While acting as a teenager I was put off by people saying if you cannot read the script quickly you will never get a part, but glad to say I returned to the acting world at 30 and have met and worked with a lot of talented people.

However, the handsome British actor and director of highly acclaimed short films did not see it that way.  In fact, having embraced his dyslexia he incorporated into his acting method.

Director Ria Richardson points out

Although Martin is slightly dyslexic this is not a weakness but his strength. He may take longer with the script but his characters once built are without exception totally believable and real. His strengths lie in improvising the scenes and characterization. He is a joy to work with.

Improvisation only works if it enhances the character or the scene. As I’m dyslexic I like to learn the role first then add the correct lines after I’ve got the character. This is why improvisation suits me a bit better and I have been fortunate that directors have been happy to support me with this approach.

Enrico Caruso

Enrico Caruso: legendary operatic tenor.

Born: February 25, 1873

Died:  August 2, 1921

While Caruso never had much to say about his classroom teachers, he remembered well his voice teacher.
It was he who impressed, time and again, the necessity of singing as nature intended, and – I remember – he constantly warned, don’t let the public know that you work. So I went slowly. I never forced the voice.

An amazing tenor, Caruso loved his audience.
I know that I shall sing only a certain number of times. So I think to myself, “Tonight I will hold back my voice. I will save it a little and that will mean I may be able to sing a few more times.” But when I go before the audience, when I hear the music and begin to sing, I cannot hold back. I give the best there is in me – I give all.

He credited his difficulties with his success.

I suffer so much in this life. That is what they [the audience] are feeling when I sing, that is why they cry. People who felt nothing in this life cannot sing.

Of course, he also gave others credit where due.
A big chest, a big mouth, 90 percent memory, 10 percent intelligence, lots of hard work, and something in the heart.

Theo Paphitis

Theo Paphitis: British business tycoon.

Born: September 24, 1959.

Even as an adult, Theo Paphitis does not like to read.

You know what?  My inspiration to be in business did not actually come from a book.  It actually came from watching telly as a kid.

TV inspired me at that stage and I knew I wanted to run my own business.

He does enjoy learning about what others are doing, however.

I look at other people who are entrepreneurial or successful and you know what?  I don’t have jealousy and I don’t have envy.  I have pure admiration and it drives me so I love to read, I love to see people who are successful, more successful than me because that drives me.

He credits his success to his creative edge.

Every year, no matter how busy I am, I [take off] all the school holidays.  That’s the time I spend with my family and…that’s the time I have most of my creative thoughts.

And to his intrinsic curiosity.

Finance meant getting stuck into other people’s business – and I’m a nosy bugger. You had to go through the business, you had to go through all the bits and pieces. My curiosity was enough to get me to ask the right questions.

Erin Brockovich

Erin Brockovich: American environmental activist.

Born:  June 22, 1960

School is supposed to be a place for learning and making friends.  For internationally famous activist Erin Brockovich, school was a source of discouragement and humiliation.

People called me stupid — I knew that I could learn, but I just couldn’t learn the way that society wanted to teach me. There are no set answers, just be who you are.

My high school teachers would not have believed I could have read all those [legal] briefs.  Early on I was told I probably wouldn’t make it through college. I knew I wasn’t stupid, but I had great hardships in school — since second grade.

Brockovich praises one special teacher.

If it weren’t for…my high school history teacher, I would have been completely demoralized by schools.  My teacher was always puzzled by my performance. In class I always knew everything and yet I always flunked the test.

So she let Brockovich take her history exams orally.

She was invaluable in helping my self-esteem.

Today her words to anyone, whether a client or a struggling student, are simple.

Never give up hope.  When someone helping you gets frustrated, don’t let them. Take a step back, because you can’t learn anything under pressure. And don’t worry about the label!

Life is full of challenges whether you are learning disabled or not. It’s how you handle those challenges. Never be afraid to be just who you are.

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