WESTERVILLE, Ohio -- A former Westerville middle-school student, who was once bullied so severely that they never finished high school, makes a comeback to serve as a teacher, mentor, and role model to young adults facing bulling or other challenges in school.
Terry McDermont works as a History and English intervention teacher at Olentangy Orange High School; but his journey there was not an easy one.
Terry says his eighth grade picture from a Westerville middle school shows the eyes of a defeated and lonely boy.
“Literally, everyday, I was told I was ugly,” said Terry. “I was a small scrawny kid, with bright red hair.”
Terry says the kids in his school punched and spit on him.
Terry was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) and an auditory learning disability.
He was sent to another school where he says his discipline resulted in him being sent to a behavioral school in Minnesota for nine months. After he returned, Terry dropped out of school and began working odd jobs and hanging out with the wrong crowd.
That all changed when he turned 21.
“I happened to wake up, and saw a commercial for the Army…’Be all you can be’…and I just said, I’m out of here.”
Terry enlisted and served four years in the 82nd Airborne and did two tours in Kosovo.
He says his self esteem soon returned and he gained new friends, but it wasn’t enough.
After his service, Terry decided he wanted to help other avoid what he went through; that’s when he became a teacher.
Now, many students say they turn to Terry - Mr. McDermott - for advice.
Sophomore Ben Schwab says he was bullied into a fight last year. He says Mr. McDermott is not just a teacher but a friend to students dealing with bullying.
Like Ben, Senior Ben Heilman knows Mr. McDermott as a teacher, wrestling coach, and a mentor. “If I’ve ever been down with grades or sports, he tells me to keep going and never stop.”
Terry has turned his battle against bullying into hope for those in depth of ridicule or self-doubt.
“Don’t look down, persevere. Find someone to talk to – there is always a way out,” Terry tells his students.
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