Before There Was ABC Spellcheck…

gabrielle_wallaceI shudder to think of such a dark and perilous time, but yes, such a time existed when people relied on knowledge and – dare I say – the dictionary to ensure spelling was correct. (Kudos to Webster.)

I’ll be the first to admit I depend on those green and red squiggles to pop up underlining what I’m typing in order to warn me about double-checking my spelling or diction. However, I recently had the privilege of interviewing some remarkable individuals in their 70s who committed to dusting off their dictionaries and studying for a competitive spelling bee fundraiser. Residents at The Stayton at Museum Way were determined to expand their vocabulary and improve their spelling skills for a good cause in support of The Tarrant Literacy Coalition, as the “Stayton’s Smarty Pants” team.

77-year-old Jane Parris, a retired teacher who held the coveted title of Spelling Bee Champion in sixth grade, was the team captain. With a strong background and passion for education, she was thrilled at the opportunity to help The Tarrant Literacy Coalition in its efforts to reverse the effects of adult low literacy. The other two members on the team were the Burfords – Bob, 76, and Nancy, 76. Bob who has a Ph.D. from Stanford and is an adjunct geology professor insisted his wife Nancy was a better speller, so he brought her onto the team with her 25 years of experience working for a newspaper. I’m happy to report, though they didn’t win the competition, they were chosen for the “Best Buzz” award as audience favorite through their spirit participating, costumes and visuals.

These seniors’ dedication to refreshing their spelling skills, forming a team with a specific theme and dressing in costume for a fundraising event left me with one word, “Inspiration.” I-N-S-P-I-R-A-T-I-O-N

Check out their intense practice sessions in this WFAA news story:

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