If I had a child or grandchild who was desperately in need of guidance to overcome a seemingly hopeless problem, I know of no one with whom I would rather have him/her consult than Corey Rhodes.
Coming into this world some 40 years ago with physical problems that have forced Corey and his twin brother, Chris, to be permanently bound to wheelchairs, they have never allowed their disabilities to disable them.
Though I retired almost two decades ago, during my 31 years of teaching in the Clymer Central School, I can say with absolute certainty that no students have ever demonstrated greater courage or determination to succeed in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds than have the Rhodes twins. During my years of teaching them, I never heard one word of complaint from either about their disabilities. Every assignment was done and it was done well. When the report cards came out the results were always outstanding.
For ordinary humans in these circumstances, participating in athletics would be an impossibility. Not so for Corey who frequently assisted on the sidelines with score keeping and coaching. For ordinary humans college would seem an impossibility. Not so for Corey who went to Edinboro University to earn a bachelors degree in education.
Graduate school? Absolutely. Corey earned a masters degree in guidance at Edinboro and completed 30 additional graduate hours at St. Bonaventure University.
Work? For the past 11 years Corey has worked as a guidance counselor at Clymer Central School. In spite of his own overwhelming challenges, he has worked indefatigably with students, often times spending hours of his own time to help resolve their many problems.
At this time Corey's job is at risk. The Clymer Central School District, like so many governmental entities, is faced with the dilemma of declining revenues balanced against growing student needs.
Raise taxes? Reduce staff? Cut programs? In these troubled economic times it's never an easy task for the decision makers. But Corey's job is on the chopping block and it should not be. It's not just his job that is at risk, but also the many troubled youths in these difficult times who receive guidance from him. They are at risk.
When students come to Corey and say "I have a problem. Please give me help," they see a guidance counselor with whom they can identify. They see a young man who has, himself, overcome almost insurmountable odds to make a difference in their lives. They see a human being who was dealt a difficult hand at birth and has never allowed that to interfere with living and helping others to live. He is the very epitome of strength and the kind of role model that every student needs.
I don't know how the Clymer Central School Board will ultimately resolve their financial dilemma; but I do know that to lose Corey Rhodes as a guidance counselor for the students and a role model for all of us would, indeed, be a tragedy.
Bradley A. Russell lives in Sherman.