Often times we think of courage as going into battle and risking your life, but there are many shades of courage and overcoming your own fears in order to be of service and benefit to others is certainly one of them. Martin Rogoff was courageous when he faced his hearing loss, got hearing aids, and took on some of the toughest critics the world has to offer—teenagers.
Martin Rogoff taught high school Social Studies for 32 years. When he retired, he took a position advising the debating team in order to keep busy and engaged with the students. He was excited to work with the kids, but he soon discovered a problem. It became apparent that his hearing loss had escalated to the point where he was having difficulty hearing the debaters. Realizing he couldn’t judge a debate if he couldn’t hear it, he went to an audiologist and invested in hearing aids. When Martin returned to school, he felt embarrassed about his new hearing aids, especially when the teenagers, never known for their empathy, began to call him, “the deaf guy.” Martin considered resigning, but then he thought twice about it. After all, he could hear and understand the nuances of the debate with his hearing loss, so why should he quit? What was more important for him to avoid the teasing and resign or to keep with it and help the kids out? He decided to teach his students more than one lesson, and he, as he puts it, “toughed it out.”
Martin slowly gained the acceptance and respect of his team, who ended up qualifying every year for national tournaments. In 2011 the national competition led them to Washington D.C. where one of Martin’s former students was judging. The student eagerly greeted his old debate teacher, and informed him that he’d gotten a job at the National Security Council as an advisor and speech writer. He thanked his teacher for all that he’d done for him and then happily took him and the entire debate team out to dinner. Afterward, he arranged for all of them to have a private tour of the White House. As Martin walked through the White House, he realized that none of this would have been possible, if not for his hearing aids. As he says, “Hearing aids have been a wonderful benefit to my life.”
People Hearing Better would like to thank Martin for sharing his inspiring story. And would also like to recognize that as much credit as he gives his hearing aids for helping him live a more engaged and happier life, none of that would’ve been possible, if Martin hadn’t overcome his own fears. Way to go, Martin! Thank you for sharing your story. We know many people facing hearing loss will find much inspiration from it.
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