COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Great teachers can make a huge difference in their students' lives. Teachers are mentors and even parental figure to many children.
Mary Ellen Fleming of Columbus says her 16-year-old son Myron, also known as Buddy, struggles with many disorders. He was once neglected and even physically abused by other teachers when he was a child. However, Buddy met a teacher when he attended Veterans Memorial Middle School who helped change his life and give hope to Fleming and the family.
"Buddy was in seventh grade when he met Mrs. Beverly," Fleming recalled. "Ms. Beverly was a Godsend, and I haven't had much opportunity to meet the teacher, but her influence goes on to this day."
Buddy was born with obsessive-compulsive disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, bipolar disorder and social anxiety. Although he was not formally diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, he was still treated for the disorder like other Asperger patients.
"It didn't bother me that Buddy was a little different than other children," Fleming said. "But I think it bothered others, especially the teachers."
Fleming said she once saw Buddy's daycare teacher drag him on the floor. She also remembered Buddy crying about his elementary school teacher hanging him on a coat hanger and hurting from the scar on his back.
"A teacher once shoved Buddy into a closet because she was uncomfortable with his behavior," Fleming said. "My son often portrays flight or fight syndrome, where if he is scared, he runs or fights. This made the teachers upset."
Fleming said she had been called by the school principal because teachers were having hard time trying to control Buddy.
"I had to watch them take my child down," Fleming said. "Police also called me when he was younger because Buddy ran away from school. We've been through a lot. We figured that Buddy was going to be disabled for all of his life, but Ms. Beverly changed everything."
Fleming said Ms. Beverly took her time and was patient with Buddy.
"Ms. Beverly held Buddy accountable and she didn't allow him to use his disabilities as an excuse," Fleming recalled.
When Buddy first started seventh grade, he was on a 0.5 reading level, or kindergarten reading level. By the time Buddy finished eighth grade, he was on 8.5 grade reading level and was on the same level as his other peers.
"He loved reading Percy Jackson books," Fleming said. "When I met Ms. Beverly for a meeting, she said Buddy fell in love with Percy Jackson's stories. She motivated him to read, and now he makes A's and B's in classes. He never looked back."
Buddy now has a new dream. He wants to go into the military and also work with animals. Ever since he learned how to read, Buddy overcame his expressive language disorder, and speaks clearly now.
"He used to stutter so much, and it was hard for all of us to understand him," Fleming said. "But he's doing so well in school, and he's also learning how to make friends. I believe that the Lord directed our steps to Ms. Beverly. God used her to give us hope."
Fleming said she wanted to thank Ms. Beverly for never giving up on her son.
"I think she was born to teach and help children," Fleming said. "I couldn't afford to give him private lessons or teachers, so I always hoped that he would somehow learn to do well in public schools. I was scared that he wouldn't, but she was all we needed. I wish we could buy her a new car or jewelry, but I don't have that money. But we are thankful. Our hearts are full. She helped me realize that God gave my son capabilities instead of disabilities. Thank you."