Winkler comes to West Virginia
By: Hannah Johnson
Actor, author, producer, and director Henry Winkler came to Ripley on October 16. Most recognize Winkler as “The Fonz” from the 80s hit “Happy Days” but both Ripley and Ravenswood elementary-level students recognize him for his “Hank Zipzer” series.
Winkler made his appearance in Ripley and Ravenswood, thanks to Our Community Foundation because of the “Hooked on Hank” Jackson County Reading Program. This program launched August 22, placing 50 volunteer readers in schools. Jill Canter, a Jackson County substitute teacher, read the Hank Zipzer book “Holy Enchilada!” to a Ripley Elementary School class as a volunteer.
Canter says, “It was a great experience being a volunteer! I love the Hank Zipzer series!”
From August 22 to October 13, the “Hank Zipzer” series introduced a competition among elementary school classes. Classes recorded minutes spent reading “Hank Zipzer” books and were rewarded with an assembly, both at Ripley and Ravenswood. Any student who completed all seventeen books in the series by the end of the year will receive an original “Hooked on Hank” t-shirt.
Winkler not only came to publicize his book series and to reward students, but to also share an understanding of students with learning challenges, due to Winkler’s struggles with dyslexia.
A dinner was held on the evening of October 16 in his honor. At this event at the Armed Forces Reserve center in Millwood, Winkler elaborated on his life as an actor and producer, fly-fisherman, and a philanthropist. He spoke of his life from childhood to today, focusing on the struggles he had as a student. It was not until he was an adult that he was diagnosed with dyslexia and did not read a full novel until age 31.
Winkler left his audience by saying, "I live by two words: tenacity and gratitude. Tenacity gets you where you want to go. Gratitude...makes you clean so you are an empty vessel when you get there.”