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Great, someone wanting money, Pratt thought. Money she


didn’t have. Money she didn’t want to give if she did have it. A delay at best. Definitely a badgering, unnecessary hassle, and Pratt wasn’t in the mood.


Reading success With the help of volunteers at the Buckner Family Hope Center at Wynnewood, Jerutha Pratt worked through a series of workbooks teaching her how to read. Through hard work and determination, Pratt is not only able to comfortably read most words, but enjoys doing it as well.


She got lucky as she approached the door of the South Dallas store. The lady was talking to someone else, and Pratt slipped by unnoticed. She picked up her medication with ease and headed out the store. “Hello,” a calm voice greeted her. Drat. There’s only so much luck in the world, and her’s had dried up. Here it comes. “Would you or someone you know be interested in learning to read?” the lady at the door asked, holding out a card. “We’re about to start a class at the Buckner Family Hope Center at Wynnewood.”


Lives change through day-to-day effort, small steps that, when com- bined, lead to drastic life-


style differences. Those journeys, the cliché says, start with one step, the hardest one of all. An alcoholic attending his or her first recovery meeting. A debt-ridden couple cutting up their credit cards. A woman who couldn’t read accepting a card from a stranger and asking when classes start. “I could read a little, but I wanted to do better,” Pratt said. “I do a lot of work at the church, and it all involves reading and writing. I’m over the finances, the mission [visitation] and the usher committee.”


A secret


Admitting you can’t read might seem easier than it was. It might seem obvious if someone can’t read, but in Pratt’s case, it wasn’t. No one – not her children, friends or co-workers – knew she was illiterate. “My second son always said, ‘If you’re not for sure, fake it until you make it,’” she said. “I learned how to fake it.” What Pratt didn’t know about grammar and phonics, she made up for through observation and understanding people. She picked up on routines quickly, was good with numbers and asked for help when she needed it – without people realizing how they were helping her.


With her children, for instance, she promoted education, knowing she couldn’t help them with their homework. She wanted them to have what she didn’t. Pratt prayed multiple times a day that her children wouldn’t discover her secret. “My kids thought I was a genius,” she said. “They didn’t


know I didn’t have a sixth grade education. When they brought me their homework, I’d look at it like I was reading it. Then I’d look at them. Then I’d look at it. They didn’t know I didn’t know what it said. I’d give it back to them and tell them, ‘You make sure all of this is correct and clear. Don’t bring it back to me until it’s right.’” At church, Pratt would show up slightly late for classes or slouch down in the back so she wouldn’t be called on to read. When she taught, she relied on the roughly 29 passages of Scripture she memorized. If she needed to share something new with a class, Pratt talked to her daughter about what she was learning in the Bible and pulled a lesson from that conversation.


SUMMER 2015 ISSUE • Buckner Today 15


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