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.
Perhaps due to a brush with death during middle school, Kayla oscillates far more than most teenagers between the child and adult versions of herself.
In a month-long hospital stay during fifth grade, Kayla had two separate surgeries to repair her gastrointestinal system, putting her life at risk. She even became a beneficiary of Make a Wish, the foundation that works with gravely ill children.
One moment, she’ll remark that if her mother hadn’t moved to Newark from Brooklyn when Kayla was in second grade, she never would have gotten her puppy and her kitten. When Make a Wish offered her anything she wanted, she chose a Disney Dream Cruise to the Bahamas.
Yet she’s also an honors student who has dreamed of going to Princeton since a school field trip there. She’s a careful planner who wants to become a doctor or lawyer, who sometimes seems like an adult with a child’s vocabulary. “If I want to go to Princeton University, it’s going to be a heavy burden on me,” she says. She already knows that there will be a heavy workload and temptations to procrastinate. “My mom says, ‘You’re still a kid, just enjoy being a kid,’ and I say, ‘I am, I’m just thinking for the future.’”
All the same, she says, “My mom is really proud of me. At North Star, she says I gave her what she really wanted…. She always wanted her child to really be successful in school, and that’s what I gave her.”
Hear the story of how the education reform movement is transforming lives: