Tom Goudie first caught my attention when I read his story while on Linkedin. I contacted Mr. Goudie to ask permission that I might share his story on my website. He said he would be honored. He also said “I hope that it would at least make a difference in even just one person.”

Like Tom, there are many adults who have struggled with reading their entire life and no one has been able to tell them why. Many adults who have dyslexia will also have at least one child that will also struggle with reading to some degree. But if these adults don’t realize they have this learning disability , they may not recognize it in their child.

By reading Tom’s account, my hope is that you recognize the DRIVE that Tom had to keep going. He didn’t let his unknown disability hold him back. I hope you don’t either. If you recognize yourself through Tom’s story and don’t know where to turn, contact me. I can help but in the meantime, here is his story.

Here is a paraphrase of his testimony:


We, as Americans, are relatively familiar with the term “DRIVE”. We know some of us are driven to be college graduates, successes in business, or good husbands and wives. Tom Goudie, age 57, succeeded in ALL of the above, but with the lack of a high school diploma, and the burden of dyslexia, which he never knew he even had until later in life.

Like most of us, Tom attended elementary school. The teachers noted that Tom couldn’t stay in line like the rest of the children, or march with the same cadence. One of his teachers actually said, “Don’t worry about Tom, he marches to a different drummer, that’s all that is wrong with him.” Tom still had “THE DRIVE” inside, and kept trying to succeed.

Tom continued to struggle during his junior high and high school years because of the continued pressure of the academics. Tom seemed to have unqualified success in industrial arts classes. If Tom could use his hands, the sky was the limit.

But high school was not made up solely of industrial arts classes alone, so Tom decided to “ditch” school to ease the pressure. He was caught. Alternatives? Suspension, or…..the Coast Guard!

Tom’s DRIVE to succeed resurfaced while he was in the Coast Guard, although he had to leave their employ due to medical reasons after an altercation with an anchor chain. After leaving the Coast Guard, Tom became a successful cook in coffee shops, diners, and later dinner houses.

Finally he became a capable technician in the banking industry. It wasn’t long until he moved into upper management. In fact, he went on to hold three different positions with Fortune 500 companies. His DRIVE to succeed continued to percolate through the years. He has had years of success running his own small business.

Tom's wife, Hope, recognized Tom’s problems with reading and writing and prompted Tom to approach the Marysville Adult School. For Tom, all of the years of frustration and aggravation finally had a name, dyslexia.

Tom was nearing retirement age. You would think that this finding would give him an excuse to forgo ever attaining his high school diploma. As Tom would say, “You don’t know me!” He immediately found an adult school so that he could finish the required work and obtain this allusive piece of paper.

The first adult school Tom Goudie tried didn’t work out because there was very little individual support. The Marysville Adult School became Tom’s second chance at gaining the coveted diploma. For once Tom was determined that dyslexia wasn’t going to be responsible for more lack of success.

Tom’s dyslexia was a challenge to The Marysville Adult School but he found support from everyone at the school: the office secretaries, the classroom aides, the teachers and the principal. The school had to challenge itself by finding resources to hire Beth Klinghardt, an expert,in the district, on dyslexia. She was hired to work with Tom on a one-on-one basis. Tom was overwhelmed with the encouragement and support of the Marysville Adult School. It truly made a difference!

As Tom would say it, “The proof is in the pudding!” After 339 hours in class, 134 chapters completed, 168 tests taken, the completion of two state tests, enduring nine courses, and uncounted sleepless nights, Tom Goudie completed the work for his high school diploma.

Tom’s success wasn’t hampered by dyslexia. His DRIVE to “work around things” wouldn’t permit it. To him, dyslexia was more of a gift than a problem.

Tom Goudie  He also serves as a gift to all of us by his example of what we can do if we have DRIVE. Tom’s life is a great example of not focusing on our weakness but to focus on our strengths.

UPDATE, 2020:  Tom is now a culinary teacher in California public schools.

By posting Tom's story we both hope it is an encouragement for any adult that still struggles with reading and maybe hasn't obtained the high school diploma you have always wanted to obtain.  IT IS NEVER to late to do so.

SIDEBAR:  I (Rene) finished college at the age of 50 and obtained a master's at the age of 63.

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