I was shared a powerful story in a video clip last night. A beautiful high school senior dear to my heart opened a letter that informed her of a scholarship that she was receiving. The scholarship from her elementary school was awarding the hard effort she put into school through her academic career and in celebration of her next journey into college. The shock and celebration of this amazing high school senior moved me to tears. Here is a child that I know has had to work so hard for every grade she has earned. She puts more effort than many students I have seen who achieve high academic success. The growth towards the achievement of high school graduation has been a mountain and journey. The family’s complete intentionality and support was imperative. And here I was able to watch through tear-filled eyes, her surprise and celebration to be able to say to people, “I got a scholarship.” What pride!

I then think about another story that one of our intervention teachers shared with me this week. Two students were sitting together having finished their work and preparing to return to class. One student who is newer to our school lamented that he just doesn’t get it. He shares how school was different before he came to Joyner. He admitted his struggles he was having. The other student who holds a large heart himself, just sighed, looked at him and stated, “You just learn differently.” This simple statement didn’t seem out of place to this other student. This from a student who has spent his school career challenged by learning. This from a student who I have watched build his confidence in learning his own way to process information. I believe this one statement tells a story of the work we do for students at Joyner.

Our children all learn in many different ways. Some children find some of the things we do simple and easy. They can engage in content deeply. Other students struggle. They have so much to learn it feels like a mountain sometimes. Sometimes those numbers just don’t make sense. Sometimes those strings of words offer no meaning. And yet, we welcome each learner into our building. We encourage and lift. We look for the special avenue that we can take to move each child forward. And along the way, we hope that our children see themselves as important in the process. We want them to be aware of their unique ways of learning.

How lovely to hear from one JYJ kid encouraging another. It may be hard sometimes, but it can be done. It can be done just a little differently. And beautiful to see that hard work of our kids can result in amazing moments down the road. I look forward to our JYJ students sharing their celebrations someday in the next steps in their lives. Keep working! Thank you to our intervention teachers and all those specialists who work tirelessly with our classroom teachers to make this work happen with honor and respect of our students.

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