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Tony Ludlow's 'Unsung Hero' is Mrs. Holman, an English teacher who changed his life

When Tony Ludlow was in 8th grade, he resented his English teacher, Mrs. Holman, for making him stay after class. But on the last day of school, she took his hand and told him something he'll never forget.
Tony Ludlow
When Tony Ludlow was in 8th grade, he resented his English teacher, Mrs. Holman, for making him stay after class. But on the last day of school, she took his hand and told him something he'll never forget.

Acts of kindness can leave a lasting impression on us. Sometimes, they can even change the direction of our lives.

When Tony Ludlow was in the 8th grade, he had an English teacher named Cecil Holman. Mrs. Holman, as he called her, was teaching a unit on poetry, and Ludlow hated it. His grades were falling. One day, Mrs. Holman decided he needed some extra help.

"And she handed me a book and she said, 'I want you to go home, and I want you to read this. And then I want you to tell me what the poem was about.' Well, I hated the whole idea," he said. "And so I reluctantly went home and opened the book to read 'Ulysses' by Alfred Lord Tennyson. And it changed my life."

Mrs. Holman started to give him other poems to read — "Invictus" by William Ernest Henley, "If" by Rudyard Kiplig and "Dulce et Decorum Est" by Wilfred Owen.

"And it just absolutely changed my life," Ludlow said.

At the end of the school year, Mrs. Holman took his hand and said something he's never forgotten.

"She said, 'Tony Ludlow, I expect greatness from you.' And I'd never heard anybody challenge me with that kind of thing in my whole life. I went to college and majored in English because of Mrs. Holman."

Ludlow never got a chance to tell her the impact she had on his life.

"She passed away the year I graduated from high school and I never knew. But years later ... I connected with her niece, and we became family.

"Sherry Toliver is her name, and Sherry and I have become family, because we both love Mrs. Cecil Holman, my 8th-grade English teacher, my unsung hero."

To share the story of your unsung hero with the Hidden Brain team, record a voice memo on your phone and send it to myunsunghero@hiddenbrain.org.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.