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Susan Notes: It is difficult to know whether to post this story as Outrage! or Good News! It is both. The point is that this teacher and this young man have made Good News triumph.

Floundering at age 17 in high school, unable to read, Jerrick sought out his middle school teacher, and she did an extraordinary thing for this quite extraordinary young man.

The St. Petersburg Times has specifically forbidden me to post their articles, so I post the beginning and then a link. I hope you will follow the link. The story will outrage you; it will make you proud you are in the same profession as Arlene Gray. It will bring you to tears.

You can write Jerrick a letter to offer him support and write his teacher and mentor Arlene Gray to say 'thank you.' Please do this. With so much bad news around us, we need to reach out when we can.

Arlene Gray
Memorial Middle School
4702 Central Avenue
Tampa Florida 33603

After reading Jerrick's story, you might also want to write the CEO of Wal-Mart, suggesting that the company might want to help their young employee who has garnered some very good publicity for them.

Lee Scott, CEO
Wal-Mart Stores Inc
Bentonville, AR 72716-8611

Jerrick's school is raising money to buy a gravestone for his aunt's grave. Put a dollar bill into an envelope and send it to:

Interactive Education Academy
1474 Bloomingdale Avenue
Valrico, Florida 33594
attention: Laurie Spiegel

by Brady Dennis

Jerrick Blue was 6 months old when social workers placed him in the care of his aunt, Patricia Blue.

His mother, Jerothea, who battled mental problems and once was arrested after chasing a neighbor with a knife, never again played a role in his life. She died in 1996.

Aunt Pat, a short, round woman who worked nights as a nurse at Tampa General Hospital, raised Jerrick as her own.

She toted him to church and made him take out the trash. She made him go to school, get regular haircuts and wear clean clothes. She taught him to answer questions with "ma'am" and "sir."

She shielded him from the darker side of his family, the relatives who lived in sketchy neighborhoods near Ybor City. She told Jerrick that working held more honor than stealing. She hammered home the dangers of selling drugs. . .

Go here for the rest of the story.

Here's another link to an audio/photo feature.

— Brady Dennis
St. Petersburg Times


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