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When 12-year-old Ronnie Littman was in preschool, he used to sit and flip through the dictionary, devouring all the words and their meanings.
“He started babbling in full sentences as a baby and was reading fluently by age three,” recalled his mother, Denise.
His parents knew their son was gifted at an early age, but didn’t know to what extent until Ronnie’s preschool teacher suggested he be evaluated.
In January, Ronnie, who passed the college entrance exam at age 10, began taking courses at Rappahannock Community College Glenns Campus in Gloucester.
“I felt as though school wasn’t challenging me enough and I wanted to try something different,” said Ronnie, who jumped from kindergarten to first grade half way through his first year of schooling and left Walsingham Academy after completing sixth grade last year. “College is definitely different from what I am used to, but I like being challenged.”
Ronnie is enrolled in three courses at the Glenns Campus: a college composition English class; Algebra; and a student success skills class required of all freshmen. He commutes to the college twice a week for classes and takes online courses the remainder of the week.
Afternoons are usually spent side-by-side at the kitchen table behind the computer screen with his younger brother, who is homeschooled, and his mother, who is working toward her doctorate degree.
“We’ve always know he’s been different, and this was just a natural progression for him,” said Denise Littman. “This is a good fit for him. It’s a lot of work, but it is much more on his level. It’s been interesting.”
The fact that he is surrounded by students who are six or seven years older than him has no impact on him.
“I’ve always been the youngest in my class,” Ronnie pointed out. “None of the kids give me a hard time, and my professors look forward to having me there. My professors are very nice.”
Ronnie’s favorite class is English. He’s developed a close relationship with the instructor, Lori Johnson.
“We communicate regularly about his experience, and I’ve made it clear to him that he should tell me if my lessons are a help or not to his learning,” Johnson said. “He’s exceptionally polite, and I love the fact that he uses five-syllable words.”
“I’m not sure at all of the direction Ronnie will take with his career path,” she added. “But his keen observational skills, easy manner of communicating in both writing and speaking, and his hefty appetite for reading are all attributes that will equip him well for whatever endeavor he chooses. He is likely to have many opportunities before him, and he may even decide to pursue multiple career paths. It will be a pleasure to watch how his life unfolds.”
Ronnie has been active with boy scouts and community theater, but has had to cut back on activities to adjust for the larger workload. Time management has been a challenge for him, as he still enjoys playing like any 12-year-old boy. He’s working toward an associate’s degree and plans to enroll in a four-year college at 14, though he is undecided about what he wants to be when he grows up.
“I like to explore everything,” said Ronnie, who loves science, particularly physics, as well as reading and hanging out at the library.
Ronnie’s parents would love for him to stay local and attend the College of William &Mary, where his father attended law school and his mother plans to graduate with her doctorate this spring.
Denise Littman is in no rush for her son to decide what he wants to do with his life.
“He still has a lot of time,” she said. “We are just super proud of him and excited for him and his future.”
This story has been corrected to reflect that Ronnie Littman is a student at the Glenns Campus of RCC, not at RCC in the Northern Neck.