All this week we’re sharing the photo essays we created for the New Schools Venture Fund Summit. These stories were shared with 1000 leaders of education reform.
No one has been harder on Ayiana than she’s been on herself.
A fair student through third grade, she first ran into real trouble in fourth grade, where she ultimately had to repeat the year. She turned on herself with spite.
“When I wasn’t able to pass to the fourth grade, I felt disappointed in myself and I didn’t really feel like I was that same person I used to be in all of the other grades,” says Ayiana. “I started calling myself stupid, dumb, and un-smart, and even though it hurt me so much, I kept calling myself like that. I could have been with all my friends… but I got left back.”
It was only after her diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder that Ayiana, now 10 years old and in 5 grade, came to understand her challenges – and with the help of a talented therapist, to begin to master them. She not only learned the behavior patterns and habits that would set her up for better success in school, she revised her opinion of herself.
“I found out that I’m not really that dumb–I’m really smart,” she says. “And I might have got left back for one little thing, but that doesn’t mean that the world is going to explode. I felt so happy about passing on to the next grade that I had confidence in myself and so I started to work even harder than I used to.”
Now, Ayiana is focused on “climbing the mountain” to college and her dream job as a veterinarian – in part because she loves animals, and in part because, she says, she has a dog and doesn’t want to spend a lot of money taking care of it. She also looks forward to traveling the world.
Hear the story of how the education reform movement is transforming lives: