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Gail S Hennessey's picture
Gail Skroback Hennessey taught for over 33 years, teaching sixth grade in all but two years. She earned a BA in early secondary education with a concentration in social studies and an MST in social...
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Keep on Trying is the Message for Learning Anything Out of Your Comfort Zone!

I recently saw this story on the news and thought what an amazing young man!

Perhaps, you may find it of interest to use with your students as an Interactive Notebook Activity using the News.


Gerald Hodges, Arlington, Texas, was a good athlete. Basketball, football and even soccer came easy for him. But, when he saw there was a need on the school’s swim team, Gerald signed up. He was a freshman. There was just ONE problem. It was a large one. Gerald couldn't swim, not at all.

During the tryouts, Gerald couldn't even make it a couple of feet in the swimming pool. He just sank like a big rock. Because there were only four swimmers on the team and the coach needed members, he let Gerald join the team.

Gerald continued to go back into the pool and tried is best. He gradually learned to swim. He wasn't very good but eventually, he was able to finish a swim meet, even though long after others had raced. Gerald continued. The school’s swim team got a bit better and even finished with a couple of places.

Now, a senior, Gerald recently (February 2018) raced in a 200 medley relay. The Sequin High School Swim Team was far behind, sixth place, and there was only about 50 yards to go. It was time for Gerald to jump into the pool and race. Only the top two teams would move on to the state competition. The young man that couldn't swim when he joined the team, raced his heart out and overtook other teams to bring his team to second place and a spot in the swim state championships!

When asked why he joined a team, in a sport he could not do, instead of joining a team in a sport he could play, Gerald said, “I felt like if I couldn't handle not being good at something, then how could I consider myself a successful person.” 

  1. What are two things you think you are good at doing?______________ and ______________ How did you get successful at doing these things?_________________________
  2. What is ONE thing which you would say that you are NOT very good at doing?______________________
  3. How do you feel if you are doing something that you know you aren't very good at doing?______________
  4. Do you think you would have done what Gerald did and try out for a sport and continue at it, when you weren't very good at doing it? Why, why not?________________________________
  5. Can Failure be a GOOD thing? Why or why not?____________________
  6. What do you think Gerald meant by his quote, “I felt like if I couldn't handle not being good at something, then how could I consider myself a successful person?”_____________________________
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