Larry Lee, blogger and education activist in Alabama, posted this moving account by a teacher of the difference that art makes in the life of a child.

This is a story told by veteran elementary educator Wendy Lang about one of her students.

It begins like this:

He was small for his age. He was immature and yet showed signs of struggles of which only adults are aware. Skinny with two constantly skinned knees, academics didn’t come easy to him; neither did the ability to sit still. His pale complexion only accented the dirt crusted on his face and hands each day. He often wore shorts in the dead of winter and his shirts were always torn and tattered. He was in desperate need of a ‘touch,’ yet I was unaware of just what I could do to give him the encouragement that he needed to establish the self-confidence necessary to find one brief, rare ray of light in the darkened tunnel of his life.

At five, he appeared to have already given up. There were times when I felt the same.

He couldn’t write his first name, couldn’t count to ten or recognize the letters of the alphabet. A severe speech impediment kept him from being easily understood. Lunch was the only subject where he seemed to excel but that was because he appeared hungry and I wonder if it ever crossed his mind just where his next meal might come from.
He did enjoy his art class when it was available. Our school shared an art teacher with two other schools and he looked forward to his time with Mrs. Young. During the spring, students were chosen to participate in an art contest at the Carnegie Visual Art Center. Every school in Decatur and Morgan County was represented by their stellar art students.

It was quite the honor.

But his mother didn’t want to go to the art show where the child’s work would be featured. She didn’t think it was all that important.

Read on to see what happened next.