Today’s guests on Inner Source is the heroine on June Foster’s latest release, Misty Hollow teacher, Molly Cambridge. Molly, welcome.
I’m so glad to have you here with us today. Will you tell our readers a little about yourself and what has brought you to Misty Hollow, Tennessee?
Thanks, Fay. It’s a privilege to appear on your blog. I’m from the metropolitan area of Nashville. I trained to become an elementary teacher, but if I hadn’t allowed my controlling father to dictate my life, I would’ve learned how to work with illiterate adults. My dad insisted I teach little kids, like my mother and grandmother before her. He said it was a Cambridge tradition, and I didn’t argue with him. But truthfully, my heart goes out to the dear people of the Appalachian Mountains, especially those who are limited by their lack of reading skills. I’ve read a lot on my own and feel qualified to teach adults. I’m planning on opening a learning center in the Misty Hollow Town Hall. Only thing—the stubborn mayor doesn’t quite seem open to the venture.
While you are from Tennessee, what do you find different about Misty Hollow from your hometown of Nashville?
The after school and weekend activities of children in Misty Hollow as compared to those in Nashville is the first thing that comes to mind. My students back home used to play with video games, iPads, and watch TV all weekend. Here the children romp in the forests, discovering ways to make up games using sticks and rocks. They go frog gigging, play hide-and-seek, and learn how to milk a cow.
But another big difference is the ethos of the adults. I ran into a group of men who expect their wives to remain at home, cooking, cleaning, and caring for the children. Literacy instruction wasn’t a high priority. Not all Misty Hollow residents hold to this mindset, however.
Another big difference is the availability of groceries. In Nashville, the mega stores sold every kind of food item imaginable as well as providing a hair salon, a fast food restaurant, a floral shop, and financial institution all under one roof. But I’m partial to the grocery in Misty Hollow because my uncle owns it. He sells homemade items Aunt Sue makes like bar-be-que, boiled peanuts, collard greens, and buttermilk bread.
You champion the cause of teaching adults who struggled to learn to read for whatever reason. When you meet someone who doesn’t know how to read, what problems do you see that they encounter that most of us take for granted as simple tasks, and how do they manage to work around their problems?
When we go to a restaurant, we pick up the menu and read the items available to order. We couldn’t possibly comprehend how difficult it is for an illiterate adult. They have no idea what’s offered. My friend, Joel, compensates by sniffing the air and identifying what’s cooking—like fried chicken. Too, he asks what the special for the day is and orders that. Another trick he uses is saying he forgot his glasses and asks the server to read some of the entrées to him.
When we’re driving and need to locate a certain street but aren’t sure how many blocks away it is, we watch the signs. Not so for illiterate adults. People who can’t read are granted the ability to obtain a driver’s license, but they still encounter difficulties in maneuvering the area, especially if they’re driving in a new environment. Again, Joel compensates by observing the country side. If he’s visiting another farm, he can look for houses, barns, etc.
Reading billboards is impossible and only the pictures give a clue as to the nature of the ad.
Joel once described the problem as if a magic carpet had transported him to China, and he had to decipher the written language there.
What would your advice be to a reader of this blog who knows someone who cannot read? What would you recommend they do for this person, especially one who is timid about letting someone know of their illiteracy?
My author, June Foster, once attended a national reading conference in Canada and the guest speak was John Corcoran. She told me what happened. Amazingly enough, John went all the way through college with an extremely limited reading ability. His book, The Teacher Who Couldn’t Read, delves into the unbelievable journey. Finally, in his thirties, with a private tutor, John mastered the ability to read. I would tell the friend who can’t read about John’s story and explain how it is nothing to be embarrassed about. Around 32 million adults in the US can’t read at a functional level, so I’d remind the person they aren’t alone. There are many local literacy centers, and you could ask the non-reader if they’d like you to help them enroll.
One more question for you, this time as a teacher to a parent. What do you suggest a parent do to encourage a child who might be slow to pick up on reading?
My author’s own daughter had a problem with reading, and she told me about it. In third grade, her daughter still couldn’t read, so my author tutored her privately. That didn’t work as her daughter was a stubborn girl, so my author appointed her older daughter as a tutor. That helped and today her daughter is a teacher herself. But not every parent feels comfortable tutoring. So, I’d suggest enrolling your student in an after school literacy center. Another option is to talk to the classroom teacher and request your child be tested for a reading disorder such as dyslexia. Public schools have special classes for these students. I’d suggest parents keep their child in prayer and remain patient. Never under any circumstances belittle your child for not reading on the level with their peers.
Thank you, Molly. Your story has a unique backdrop and message, and I know that the readers will enjoy their trip to Misty Hollow. I look forward to speaking with your author, June Foster, on Wednesday.
About Misty Hollow:
When two people are cultures apart, only God can bridge the gap.
Molly Cambridge arrives in the tiny Appalachian town of Misty Hollow intent upon bringing literacy to the area’s uneducated women, only to be met by opposition at every turn by the headstrong, unbending mayor. When she asks for use of Town Hall, he refuses her offer to teach without pay and turns her down flat saying he only allows village business conducted there.
Joel Greenfield, son of a poor dirt farmer, is illiterate. When he admits to his passion to turn the family farm into a dairy business, the obstacles are insurmountable. He couldn’t even read the manual on how to use farming machinery, much less generate the necessary capital. His father’s objections further frustrate his desires.
When Joel offers Molly use of the old barn on the Greenfield property, they discover an irresistible attraction for each other. But the mayor has plans of his own to break them up, send Molly back to Nashville, and seize the Greenfield farm for himself. Can Molly and Joel overcome the hurdles to fulfilling their dreams and find their way to each other? Only God has the answers.
An award-winning author, June Foster is a retired teacher with a BA in education and MA in counseling. June’s book Give Us This Day was a finalist in EPIC’s eBook awards and a finalist in the National Readers Choice Awards for best first book. Ryan’s Father was one of three finalists in the published contemporary fiction category of the Oregon Christian Writers Cascade Writing Contest and Awards. Deliver Us was a finalist in COTT’s Laurel Awards. June has written four novels for Desert Breeze Publishing. The Bellewood Series, Give Us This Day, As We Forgive, and Deliver Us, and Hometown Fourth of July. Ryan’s Father is published by WhiteFire Publishing. Red and the Wolf, a modern day retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, is available from Amazon.com. The Almond Tree series, For All Eternity, Echoes From the Past, What God Knew, and Almond Street Mission are available at Amazon.com. June enjoys writing stories about characters who overcome the circumstances in their lives by the power of God and His Word. Recently June has seen publication of Christmas at Raccoon Creek, Lavender Fields Inn, Misty Hollow, and Restoration of the Heart. Visit June at junefoster.com.