Dr. Richard Evans
Imagine living with an invisible disability; a disability that affects your life so profoundly that you are labeled as lazy, unmotivated, lacking intelligence. Dr. Richard Evans doesn't have to imagine, he's lived the experience. "While I was struggling in high school, special education was just finding a foothold," Richard remarks. Over a decade passed before his learning disabilities were accurately diagnosed as two developmental disorders — one in reading and the other in expressive writing — a diagnosis that helped pierce his fog of depression. "Just knowing that my problem had a name and that I was not stupid gave me hope." In fact, Richard, a high-school dropout, went on to earn a Ph.D. in exceptional education. Now this JMU professor guides students to be educators who can help youngsters with special needs find their way to academic and personal success. His students appreciate not only his insight in the field of special education, but also his unselfish service in behalf of others. A dedicated faculty adviser, he is also active in his church's ministry and has worked side-by-side with many of his students rebuilding homes and communities in Hurricane Katrina relief. Richard doesn't regard his success as exceptional, believing instead that "everyone has the potential to be what they want to be when they are afforded the opportunity to learn in the manner best suited for their individual strengths." And, he's determined to see that the remarkable change he has achieved in his own life is an attainable goal for others.
"For those who think I am an exception to the rule, it is time for that paradigm to be replaced. The rule is 'all students can learn.'"