As a Miriam High School junior, Sarah has lots of friends, an exuberant personality, a great relationship with teachers and a solid understanding of her coursework. She’s involved in school activities and is planning for college.
Just five years ago, though, Sarah found herself engulfed in a debilitating depression due to challenges she was having at school. Doctors even wondered if she had a brain tumor, because of the physical symptoms she was having.
It turned out to be situational depression, and Sarah’s mom, Debbie, was afraid she was losing her spunky, determined daughter. She knew she needed to find a different school environment for Sarah.
“After a Miriam open house, all I could say was it was too good to be true,” Debbie says. “But it was for real!”
Debbie has always known Sarah learned differently, and she has been very open with Sarah about those differences throughout her journey. As early as kindergarten, Sarah began to struggle with letter identification, sight words and rhyming. Debbie sought out private diagnostic testing, which revealed two types of severe dyslexia. Her elementary school began to make accommodations for Sarah, and she started doing quite well.
Unfortunately, those accommodations ended when she transitioned to middle school, and she lost all the ground she had gained. Sarah was depressed and defeated before starting at Miriam in seventh grade.
“Miriam made every accommodation possible, evening the playing field, so Sarah was able to reach her full potential,” Debbie says. “That is what equal opportunity is all about. It isn’t about making it ‘easy.’ Learning will never be easy for Sarah, but Miriam has made it attainable by taking into
consideration how she learns and adapting their teaching approach.”
Sarah not only began to understand the material and progress academically, but she also gained back her self-confidence. She found a welcoming atmosphere at Miriam, where she feels comfortable asking questions and being herself.
“It’s ok to be different at Miriam,” Debbie says, “Because they empower and embrace everyone. They have provided Sarah with social skills to navigate through many difficult situations, and I have already witnessed her using these outside of the school environment.”
Sarah says one of her favorite things about Miriam is the close bond she has formed with other
students. She has made many friends at Miriam – something that was relatively new to Sarah.
She also appreciates that the teachers have truly gotten to know her, and to know how she learns. This leads to strong relationships with her teachers.
Debbie’s favorite part of Miriam is the teachers’ and administrators’ dedication to teaching unique learners.
“It takes patience and creativity to provide instruction in a variety of ways, and still reach all the academic standards required of them.
“They are always approachable, friendly, caring and energetic!”
Most importantly, when Sarah came to Miriam and began to receive support in all of the areas she needed – and even in ways she didn’t realize she needed – that spunk began to resurface.
“Miriam has not been just a game changer, as they say, but a life changer for Sarah,” Debbie says. “Education is about so much more than book learning. Miriam is preparing students to succeed in life.”