When L. Todd Rose dropped out of high school, he had a 0.9 GPA. He had a pregnant girlfriend, was living in small-town Utah, was making less than $5 an hour, and was subsisting on welfare checks.
You wouldn’t guess that now about Rose, who is a lecturer at the Graduate School of Education. He pokes fun at his windowless office, a scant, boxy room, lit with unflatteringly buttery bulbs and a corner table. It looks like the kind of room in which you’d interrogate a criminal. And Rose knows it. He almost became one.
There was that incident in seventh grade, which established Rose as a force in his small-town community. While the art teacher turned his back to the class, Rose fired off six stink bombs at the blackboard and earned a suspension — one of many. Those stink bombs, along with his forays into petty vandalism, and pushing his sister from a window, are luridly outlined in Rose’s new memoir-cum-educational manifesto, Square Peg: My Story and What it Means for Raising Innovators, Visionaries, and Out-of-the-Box Thinkers. The book was co-written with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Katherine Ellison.
But square peg is putting it mildly. Throughout his adolescence, Rose’s uncontainable behavior also got him bullied, which prompted him to act out even more, to fail in school. But redemption was around the corner. It was on a golf course.
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