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From drug addict to class act

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I guess we’ll call this “Reader-inspired Tuesday.” Here’s another jewel. Please keep them coming.

Just north of the airport in Phoenix, in one of America’s most violent neighborhoods, the crackle of gunfire often ricochets between shabby stucco houses. Brenda Combs is leading her students in song. “When we wake up in the morning,” she belts out in a soulful contralto, “we can brush our teeth … comb our hair … eat some food … and get ready for a brand-new day.”

The woman by the chalkboard, for her part, has achieved a kind of success that once would have seemed well beyond her grasp.  When she received her master’s in education from Grand Canyon University last spring, First Lady Laura Bush sent congratulations.

What makes Combs such an extraordinary educator of at-risk children—the kind whose students drop by later to thank her—may be the years she spent living on the streets as a desperate crack addict. She slept under bridges and rummaged through dumpsters for breakfast. And she seldom used a comb or a toothbrush.

Combs, 45, likes to show teenage students her “before” photos, which portray a gaunt, disheveled derelict with zombie eyes. “I know what it’s like to want to get high,” she says, “to be hungry and abused. They trust me because I’ve been there.”

There is a lot more to this amazing story: From Drug Addict to Class Act

E-mail your story ideas to .

Written by allpositivenews

03/10/2009 at 8:11 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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