For too many people who grow up on the south side of Chicago, South Wabash Avenue is a dead-end street. And it could have been a dead end for Deval Patrick, CBS News correspondent Richard Schlesinger reports.
"Tough neighborhood. We spent some time on public assistance," Patrick explains.
It's a long way from a South Chicago rowhouse to the Massachusetts Statehouse. Deval Patrick made that journey, and he's just made a little history. Patrick just became the first black governor of Massachusetts.
His climb to the top of Beacon Hill started when he was just a schoolboy. Lucky for Patrick, Darla Weissenberg was his 7th grade teacher. She had about 100 students, but she noticed him.
"He had groundedness, a kind of comfort with who he was," Weissenberg recalls.
And, as luck would have it, she stumbled upon a national program that gets gifted, low-income kids into top private schools and pays their way.
"To me it was like, you know, winning the lottery or something," Weissenberg says.
Patrick left this neighborhood for a new neighborhood, Milton Academy, outside Boston.
"I remember being scared. I remember being embarrassed," Patrick says. "I remember feeling I would be discovered — in the sense of not being really qualified or ready for this."
In Patrick's own words, this wasn't just a different place, it was a different planet. And it quickly became the center of his universe.
Milton led to Harvard, then Harvard law and a successful career in government and industry. And then, to his election night victory.
It was a landslide in a state with a troubled racial past and at the center of it all was Darla Weissenberg's former student.
Weissenberg says Patrick was fortunate to have been both lucky and good. Patrick says he has thought about what his life would have been like if he had not crossed paths with his teacher.
"It's very, very hard to imagine what might have been," Patrick says.
The new governor of Massachusetts learned at least one important lesson from his 7th grade teacher, that sometimes when you start out on a tough street, being the smartest kid on the block just isn't enough.
for more features.