Encouraging Words


Ron Heller is a gifted speaker and writer; so I was thrilled to receive his story. Ron sent this story about his encouraging English professor through the Chalk and Chances website.

His name was Butts, Bill Butts. He wrote it on the blackboard the first day of my freshman year in English Literature at Michigan State University. He said. “This is a name you will never forget;” and he was correct. Sixty-four years later, I still recall his name and the impact he had on my life. Mr. Butts changed my life in a rather odd way. My grade for the term was only a B, but his comments to me set the stage for what I would do from that moment to this. 

After submitting a paper on experiencing dramatic events in my life of nineteen years, Mr. Butts asked me to read it to the class. He pointed out that it was only worth a B minus because of my syntax and spelling; however, it was worth an A for my plot development and the effect it had on him. So, I read it to the class. It dealt with the movie, “Isle of the Dead”. Because I acted out the parts, I intrigued each student in the class, and they applauded. Mr. Butts concluded I was not studying the right major. I was attempting to earn a B.S. in metallurgy. He suggested I set my sights on a B.A. and change my major to communications, which I ended up doing. 

After changing schools from MSU to UCLA, I received my degree in communications in 1960. I went on to write, produce and direct my own thirty minute TV show, which received considerable acclaim. After military service, I began a career in radio and TV. After a broadcast career in California, Michigan and finally Florida, I hosted my own TV show for 20 years entitled; “Golf is our Game.” My TV show was the first live, prime time, golf TV show in a major market. It also was the first recorded show from the Golf Network in 1995. 

Over sixty years later, I still recall those MSU days when I speak throughout Florida to various organizations. I found my purpose in life through the comments made by an English Professor who cared enough to guide me through those formative early years.

Ron’s story reminded me of the power in identifying a student’s strengths. Bill Butts looked past the writing conventions to recognize Ron’s ability to tell a story. When did a teacher encourage you to use your gifts and talents? Please share in the comments below.

Wishing you an endless supply of chalk and chances-


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