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Mary had grown up knowing that she was different from the other

kids, and she hated it. She was born with a cleft palate and had to

bear the jokes and stares of cruel children who teased her non-stop

about her misshaped lip, crooked nose, and garbled speech.

With all the teasing, Mary grew up hating the fact that she was

“different”. She was convinced that no one, outside her family,

could ever love her ... until she entered Mrs. Leonard’s class. Mrs.

Leonard had a warm smile, a round face, and shiny brown hair.

While everyone in her class liked her, Mary came to love Mrs.

Leonard. In the 1950’s, it was common for teachers to give their

children an annual hearing test. However, in Mary’s case, in

addition to her cleft palate, she was barely able to hear out of one

ear. Determined not to let the other children have another

“difference” to point out, she would cheat on the test each year.

The “whisper test” was given by having a child walk to the

classroom door, turn sideways, close one ear with a finger, and

then repeat something which the teacher whispered. Mary turned

her bad ear towards her teacher and pretended to cover her good

ear. She...

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