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Neighborhood Spotlight: Judge Olly Neal

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Judge Olly Neal

Retired Appellate Court Judge, Olly Neal was featured in New York Times, Pulitzer Prize winning writer, Nicholas Kristof’s column last week (January 21, 2012).   Judge Olly Neal and his wife, Karen Buchanan, are long time downtown Little Rock residents.  Ms. Buchanan is a former Downtown Little Rock Community Development Corporation (DLRCDC) Board member.

Here’s an excerpt of the article.  Enjoy!
IF you want to understand how great teachers transform lives, listen to the story of Olly Neal.A recent study showed how a great elementary schoolteacher can raise the lifetime earnings of a single class by $700,000. After I wrote about the study, skeptics of school reform wrote me to say: sure, a great teacher can make a difference in the right setting, but not with troubled, surly kids in a high-poverty environment. If you think that, or if you scoff at the statistics, then listen to Neal.

In the late 1950s, Olly Neal was a poor black kid with an attitude. He was one of 13 brothers and sisters in a house with no electricity, and his father was a farmer with a second-grade education. Neal attended a small school for black children — this was in the segregated South — and was always mouthing off. He remembers reducing his English teacher, Mildred Grady, to tears.

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1 Comment

  1. Ira J Gilmore says:

    Mr. Neal’s mother was someone I admired. I can remember as a child riding around in the car with her and my grandmother, and Mrs neal would have me reading all the billboards that we passed along the way. She encouraged me to read everything I saw. And now I’m a senior in age and I still love to read. Thank God for people like Mrs Grady and Mrs Neal who took the time and shared some true love for mankind.

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