Adam Shepard inspires Rose students
BY MARTHA BENNETT OCTOBER 31 2014
For the many students who have taken AP Language and Composition with English teacher Ashley Hutchinson, the book title “Scratch Beginnings” may ring a bell. Author of his own personal story, Adam Shepard, came to Rose on Oct. 16 to talk to current and previous readers about his journey, answer questions and speak about his new book as well as his latest endeavors.
In “Scratch Beginnings,” Shepard's outlook on the lower class differ from ones of the popular Barbara Ehrenreich novel, "Nickel And Dimed." Shepard sets out on a journey to find out what it truly means to live the American dream and leaves his hometown of Raleigh, North Carolina to move to Charleston, South Carolina with nothing but the clothes on his back, a small backpack and $25.
"This was an idea that I had with no intention of writing a book; I had this incredible experience and wrote every single day,” Shepard said. “After my journey, I decided that other people could learn from what I did so I then combined all my writings into a manuscript and had a book."
For the past five years, Hutchinson's AP English class has read both Shepard's and Ehrenreich's view on what it means to work to achieve the American dream.
“I have students read both “Nickel and Dimed” and “Scratch Beginnings” because I think it’s important for them to be exposed to opposing viewpoints,” Hutchinson said. “Students typically prefer “Scratch Beginnings” because it has a more positive outlook on the attainability of the American dream.”
Writing "Scratch Beginnings" has given Shepard more opportunities than just publishing a book.
"What I've really loved is going to different schools and colleges like I'm doing now," Shepard said. "I get new questions wherever I go, and while students may feel like this is just a great learning opportunity for them, it's also for me because the more I speak in front of students, the better I become and the more I learn, which is most important to me."
Through his journey, Shepard developed his own philosophy of hard work and determination.
"Do I think everyone should do what I did? No," Shepard said. "But do I think anyone can? Absolutely. The most important thing I learned is that if you want anything, you either give zero or 100 percent. You're either all in or nothing, and I've taken that approach to everything I do in life now and am so grateful."
Shepard’s time with Rose students has given them new things to think about while reading “Scratch Beginnings”.
“Being able to hear about his experiences was my favorite part,” junior Caleb Odeke said. “I thought it was really inspiring how he talked about the American dream being achievable and possible.”
The important lessons that Shepard wants readers to get out of "Scratch Beginnings," is that perseverance is key and in order to achieve dreams, one must learn.
"Your story is different from his story, from her story and my story," Shepard said. "That's the beauty of the American dream. Your story could be more challenging than mine, but once you yourself get to the other side of the rainbow, it's much more satisfying and you then realize that all that you learned, the easy or hard way, was well worth your time."