This is part one of an eight part series that profiles all students who are recipients of the 2020 McGowan Courage Award, presented by the Mansfield Rotary Club. One story will be released each day for the next eight days.
Growing up with a hearing deficit can have the ability to make a child feel insecure and isolated from others. For Tyler Tackett, he doesn’t let his disability stop him from achieving his hopes and dreams.
Nominated by several teachers at Madison High School, Tackett humbly accepts the 2020 McGowan Courage Award.
Tackett’s parents, Thaddeus and Jaime Tackett couldn’t be prouder of their son.
“I felt excited about; that he was going to be put up for this. I think he’s very deserving of it,” Thaddeus Tackett said.
Tackett’s parents began to notice during his toddler years that his vocabulary hadn’t developed as rapidly as most children and that he seemed to be unresponsive to verbal communication.
During his kindergarten year his teacher reported that he was displaying defiant behavior, wasn't listening to directions and that he was really struggling in school.
“There were certain situations where I had difficulties and a hard time hearing, so I had to constantly ask the teacher or person to repeat themselves for me to understand what they were saying,” Tyler Tackett said.
After multiple trips to the family doctor, his parents were able to secure an appointment with a hearing specialist, where Tackett was diagnosed as having a 50% hearing deficit in both ears.
Because speech and language acquisition is intensive during a child's first three years, Tackett fell significantly behind in his speech acquisition and needed speech and language therapy until the age of 12. He also began wearing hearing aids to assist in his hearing. However, the hearing aids did not restore his hearing to normal.
While sounds were magnified, so was background noise and other noises, which were and continue to be distracting when trying to hear people speak. Also, with the hearing aids, some sounds or pitches can be very bothersome and even painful for him. He has also had his hearing aids knocked out of his ears on occasion during the physical contact that takes place at times during physical activities.
Despite his struggles, Tackett did not try to use it as a crutch, according to his former principal Rob Peterson.
“Tyler’s a great example of a kid who’s overcome a difficulty and has worked very hard to do that and has excelled on the very end of it,” Peterson said.
From kindergarten to his senior year of high school, Tackett has excelled in every sport he’s played, including: basketball, football and soccer. He also used sports as a way to help him learn more ways to adapt with his hearing deficit, as well as speak up about it to better his communication skills with his teammates and coaches.
Through maturity, perseverance and work ethic, Tackett maintained a 3.3 GPA and missed only three days of school during his entire four years of high school.
Tackett remains grateful for all of the people in his life who supported him, especially his English teacher Mrs. Myers for encouraging him and lifting him up. He plans on furthering his studies when he attends Ashland University in the fall, majoring in education to become a high school social studies teacher and athletic coach.
Tackett has a message for any kid like him who’s struggled or continues to struggle with their hearing deficit.
“I would tell them to be more confident with themselves and never let something bring them down no matter what situation they are going through,” he said.
The 2020 McGowan Courage Awards are sponsored by: OhioHealth (premier sponsor), Mechanics Bank (gold sponsor), OSU Mansfield (silver sponsor), Richland Bank, North Central State College, The Mansfield Art Center and The Renaissance Theatre.