Arnie Stewart lived for most of his life without knowing how to read and write. His background of extreme poverty, sexual abuse and homelessness might have stopped most people but for Arnie it generated a will to survive and help others. By telling his story, Arnie hoped the system would change for the better but he needed help.
Janet Lee was a high school English teacher who worked with struggling students. Arnie’s story, prompted a transformation in her students she had not seen in the past. His experiences inspired even the toughest students to ask for help. In addition, Arnie’s story reminded her of the relationship she had with her beloved Uncle Mitch. After hearing Arnie’s story for the first time, Janet Lee offered to help Arnie get his message to more students. This offer started a ten year transformational journey.
Together, Janet Lee and Arnie reached thousands of students who would have previously slipped through the cracks of the educational system. Arnie’s story inspired hope and change. Janet Lee framed Arnie’s story using her expertise to improve teachers’ literacy strategies in classrooms, the workplace and Universities. Together they made a difference to the world of education and became best friends as a result.