News Release

For Immediate Release

Contact: Daniel Wackershauser, Marketing Specialist
Phone: 608.822.2303
Mail: 1800 Bronson Blvd., Fennimore, WI 53809
Date of Release: April 3, 2023

Randall’s life not defined by stuttering (with video)

Fennimore -

In his youth, Joe Randall was once advised that it would be in his best interest not to pursue a teaching career because of his stuttering. For nearly eight years, he has been an Electrical Power Distribution instructor at Southwest Wisconsin Technical College in Fennimore. “Even though I stutter, I am not scared to speak in public,” he said. “I have never been nervous when I start class.”

Randall, 40, grew up in Excelsior, Wisconsin, a small village in rural Richland County. He graduated from Riverdale High School and was planning to play baseball in college. Unfortunately, those dreams faded when the college closed. He then enrolled at UW-Richland in Richland Center, Wisconsin, before later transferring to UW-Platteville, in Platteville, Wisconsin. He majored in history, with an English minor.

Randall realized he had a stuttering issue when he first started kindergarten or first grade. “I didn’t recognize it, but when I asked my parents, my mom said she was told that when I was born I was going to stutter,” he said. “She claimed that the doctors did some sort of brain test on me and they said that my brainwaves were very fast. Of course, when I asked my brother, he claims it’s because he tickled me a great deal; it’s that old saying, if you tickle someone, they are going to stutter. My dad claimed I did not stutter at all until I was a little over two and we moved from Platteville to a farm outside Mt. Zion.”

Randall was in speech class from kindergarten until fourth grade. His father removed him from the class, because it was interfering with his other studies. Since then, Randall has not returned for any speech therapy.

When he was younger, Randall wished he could talked as well as the other students. The stuttering was more prounounced at an earlier age. “I definitely got made fun of,” he said, stopping short of calling it bullying. The worst years were from when he was five until he was 13.

Even though some of his classmates teased him, Randall was able to go about his business. “My dad also trained me to not really care what the other kids were saying, and I think they could tell that it really didn’t bug me that they were making fun of me, so they left me alone for the most part,” he said.

Randall’s father was a key influence in his early life. When Randall was born, his father was 56 years old. “He always talked to me like I was probably older than nine, 10, 12 years old, that type of stuff,” said Randall. “I think he was always training me for the real world. I think he took time to make sure that I was a good person and that the other kids would see that, instead of just a kid that stuttered.”

Prior to his 12th birthday, Randall’s father passed away, leaving a significant void in his life. “I didn’t have someone to talk to about the stuttering,” said Randall. “I felt alone.”

Randall recalls a couple instances when he was 14-years-old, he would ride in the car with his mom and he would sing along to the music. His mom told him while he was singing, he would not stutter.

The stuttering didn’t improve much after that, until one summer in high school when he took a mowing job. He was tasked with mowing a very large property, which took multiple days each time. When he returned to school in the fall, his friends explained to Randall that his stuttering had improved. “I was just more calm,” he said. “I wasn’t tense talking to people. I wasn’t always scared. Up until that point, every time I talked in class, every time I talked to somebody I was fighting that I was going to stutter. I already knew that I was going to stutter before it happened, and it made me a lot more reserved. I don’t know if it was getting in touch with the outdoors, that made me a little more calm, but that’s the first time in my life that I felt like I could control it a little bit.”

Randall’s grandma would tell him about famous people who stuttered, but he would never notice them doing it, and he didn’t see anyone in the community, or in school, stutter. “It did feel like I was alone,” he said. “I always wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to be labeled. I didn’t want somebody to remember me as the guy who stutters. After all these years,  I guess, really, it’s who I am. If it wasn’t here I might miss it, time to time.”

One thing that made a tremendous, positive impact was coaching. Randall coached high school sports for many years. He was a baseball and basketball coach at Wauzeka and later and basketball and softball coach at Riverdale. “I would tell them, you can never make weakness a strength if you never work on it,” he said. “It would have been real easy to crawl underneath my bed or under a desk and not want to talk, but I can’t get any better at it if I don’t work on it, and I think if people see that you’re not afraid to speak I think people are going to see more than you on that.”

Randall recommends utilizing the resources that are now available. And, as for any advice he may have for others, he says not to give up. “You can do it,” he said. “You have to want to defeat it. It takes time.”


| Southwest Wisconsin Technical College, a finalist for the 2023 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, is one of 16 institutions that comprise the Wisconsin Technical College System. Southwest Tech offers more than 60 programs in a wide variety of disciplines. Courses are offered on campus, online, HyFlex and in a blended format. The college provides apprenticeship, certificate, technical diploma, and associate degree programs that respond to district workforce needs and prepare student for family-sustaining jobs and career advancement. |

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