HBZ 4 / 6 Dec 30, 2009 #1Prompt:Indicate a person who has had a significant influence on you, and describe that influence."STOP TALKING!" the teacher shouted at the top of her voice, and we could predict who the unkindly message was addressed to without even moving an inch.Duncan was not what I'd call a role model. In fact, his leadership capabilities lay solely in being the first one to create mischief in the class. He was constantly reprimanded by his parents, teachers and peers alike because he was ill mannered, disruptive and lacked respect. His round face, chubby appearance and crooked nose made it hard for anyone to take him seriously, and gave him the esteemed title of "class clown"- one he seemed to be proud of. I met Duncan in the 9th grade and it was an experience I will never forget.It was in the middle of the school year when we formerly met. Previously, we had only exchanged eye contact on the odd occasion even though we were in the same homeroom class. By then we had all created and joined little "cliques" with people of similar interest and background. His was with two boys who were, to put it mildly, on the wrong side of the fence. Ironically enough, the first AND last initials of their names spelt B.A.D when arranged properly (their names were Bert Brown, Annif Abrahams and Duncan Daley). These three musketeers were busy fighting battles of their own, with the teachers instead of their schoolwork.We had three classes together, English Language, Information Technology and Mathematics- my favorite. Regardless of the class I could always predict what he was up to, whether it be fighting the powers of sleep, leaving his signature on the desks and chairs or distracting the person next to him- it was anything but schoolwork. His ability to keep talking was unmatched- something he was not afraid to prove!It was in math class that I had the pleasure (or displeasure) of working withhim. The teacher assigned a handful of students who were stronger in the subject area to group up with those less equipped. I was assigned to work with eight students, Duncan included. At first I was a little reluctant to work with him. I felt that no progress could be made with someone who cared little or none at all about his own future. As the saying goes, "You can carry a donkey to the river, but you can't force him to drink!" Nevertheless I proceeded to see what could be done.Immediately he stood out from the rest of the group. He was larger and louder than the others, and his attention span was infinitesimal. His illegible handwriting and reluctance to participate made it even more frustrating to work with him. With a test creeping up on us, I soon began to focus on the other students in the group, who were showing progress and willing to learn.When the results came back I was more than pleased. My group had improved theirgrades by at least ten percent, one student even scoring above me- all except Duncan. He was still at "square one" and had only himself to blame. The next class I noticed something different. He was busy writing in his notepad, which I quickly accredited to cartoon drawings or scribbles rather than schoolwork. He started participating in my active discussions and work exercises which I had thought was due to the nearing of final examinations. I continued to work with him, explaining concepts, drawing diagrams, even sacrificing lunch a couple of times to go over material. In my eyes tough, it was too late. His last minute spark of interest was commendable, but still, pointless.Apparently, the joke was on me. When the examination results came back, he scored a whopping 96%, the highest in the class. The teacher was so surprised he remarked the paper three times to make sure his mind wasn't playing tricks on him. Even to this day I cannot fully believe it. One thing was evident though- I had underestimated Duncan. His determination and focus allowed him to pull through in the end. He had succeeded not only in his grade, but in making us all realize our own failures. I never stopped to take him seriously or look for his potential and I realized that in every darkness, there is a beam of light waiting to shine.I am glad he was able to prove me wrong as we all "learn from our mistakes". I like to think of myself as an impartial, non-judgmental person. Duncan showed me that I still have some distance left before I reach there.Anticipating replies!