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Achieving With Dyslexia

special-needs-stories-two-puzzle-piecesOne in every ten people has some form of dyslexia; and I am one of those people. When my peers, teachers, and people in general look at me they probably see an intelligent, outgoing young lady. I bet not one of them would suspect me of having dyslexia. I was diagnosed when I was in third grade. However, I really did not know what dyslexia truly was until I was in middle school, and even then I did not know how to "get around it" and accomplish my goals, academically or socially. Then, I entered Norfolk County Agricultural High School, where I was, for the first time, provided with new, creative teaching styles and challenged by a teaching staff that did not see me as problematic. For many years, I have been battling my dyslexia which I will continue to do for the rest of my life. The only difference is that I am now ready to fight back.

Monica Ranger, a 2007 Anne Ford Scholarship Award Honorable Mention, struggled through her early school career after being placed with teachers who were either unmotivated or unwilling to assist her. She was later accepted to a high school where she was supported by a dedicated teaching staff and where she could inspire other students as well.

When I was first diagnosed with dyslexia as a young child, I was already shy and did not associate well with my peers. After I was diagnosed I began to think that something was wrong with me; that I was not as intelligent as my peers. My teachers' views of me did not help either. Looking back on it I feel that I did not receive any motivation or assistance from my elementary school teachers. Instead I felt as if they looked upon me as a nuisance, put me in a corner and forgot about me; that was when I first fell behind.

By the time middle school rolled around I had moved to Medway. Many aspects of my education changed there, both good and bad, but, sadly, many things stayed the same as well. I was put into a class that I was not ready for, and entering middle school as a new kid was not easy for me. Throughout middle school, I had little to no friends and few teachers that did not seem motivated to see their students succeed. However, there were a few teachers that pushed me to be better and gave me motivation to be a better student as well. Three teachers in particular gave me my confidence back. They helped me develop my love of reading and writing, something which I previously despised.

My freshman year I attended Tri-County Regional Vocational High School, where I felt, for the first time, that I was underestimated. My teachers were amazed with the things I could accomplish as well as the thought and detail that I put into every assignment. I continued to be challenged by my reading comprehension and my ability to write but I continued to grow with their praise. I gained a new sense of confidence and joined the basketball team and drama club, both of which allowed me to voice my opinions. However, I did not feel that I was completely accomplished until I was accepted, and decided to attend, Norfolk County Agricultural High School.

Norfolk County Agricultural High School was the first place where I found myself pushed to a level of education beyond what I thought I could ever accomplish. Here I met teachers that inspired me in many ways and who taught me that I could accomplish anything as long as I put my mind to it. The confidence they instilled allowed me to be more open and outgoing. I was soon well-known throughout the school for my involvement in sports and clubs. Although many of them will never know it, they are the reason I am choosing to pursue a career in teaching. I learned that there is no wrong or right way of learning, that different styles of teaching and studying are needed to accommodate each individual.

You probably want to know why I deserve the Anne Ford Scholarship and my reasoning is this: I never use my dyslexia as an excuse for doing poorly in school, just a reason to go above and beyond. I have transformed over many years from a shy, conservative student to a well-known leader who gets involved in anything I can. I continuously look for opportunities to be involved in my school. I am the Student Council Representative for Peer Network and Team Harmony, and president of the Gay-Straight Alliance at my school. I have expressed a sense of teamwork where I played two sports, basketball and volleyball. I have also been able to teach underclassmen about alcohol and substance abuse. I voluntarily tutor my peers on my own time, in math and study techniques. I work part-time at Ocean State Job Lot so I will have money for college, while maintaining my good grades and my GPA.

So why do I deserve this scholarship? Not because I have dyslexia. Not because I have good grades, and not because I am active in my school. I deserve this scholarship because I am a person who has been knocked down more times than I can count and I have responded by exceeding others' expectations. Now, I want to help others persevere. I want to be a teacher who shows children that all the doors in the world are open to them, and the only one who can hold them back is that very same person looking back at them in the mirror.

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