Five thousand, four hundred, seventy five days in foster care. That’s the first 15 years of my life. In that time, I never went to one school a whole school year. My Mom and I became a family on my bio 15th birthday. She is my 13th and final home. In 7th grade, I met a special ESE teacher, Ms. Maz, who changed my life. She took time to explain my IEP to my Mom and she didn’t judge me based on what she read, but really got to know me. I spent 7th and 8th grade with her, and she taught me how to learn.
I started at Pepin Pasco my freshman year and this is where I truly started to understand that a learning disability didn’t mean I was dumb, but that my brain learns differently. I am challenged in different ways and I was encouraged to ask for and use my accommodations. Attending Pepin Academies has changed my entire life. Not just academically, but every part of it. I never even thought about attending college before Pepin. Last fall I received my first quarter report card of my Junior year and had high honor roll and a 3.7143 GPA, and that means I can have my choice of colleges.
At Pepin Academies we are encouraged to share and help each other. We have smaller classes than a traditional public high school, and our teachers have the time to give us all equal and individual attention. This has helped me, in math in particular. I am dyslexic and have dyscalculia. My brain doesn’t see a number line. So for me, in math it makes all the difference that I have teachers who can recognize how I learn best and assist me with my special accommodations. I’m proud to say I received a B in Algebra 2 this quarter.
Although attending Pepin is free for all students, the school relies on funding from the community in addition to the funding it receives from the state. Imagine if all kids like me, who have a learning disability, can go to a school where they have an opportunity to learn in a way that suits their learning style. Kids can be in an environment where they are not afraid or ashamed to ask for and use their accommodations. Kids like me deserve to have their best chance at a great education. Kids like me deserve to follow their dreams and attend college. Kids like me want to reach their full potential and rise to new heights.