Getting Kids on Track to School Success


Alya’s fun, bubbly personality and great sense of humor created a brave face meant to protect her secret: when Alya opens a book, the words swim across the page.  Alya is smart but she struggles with  dyslexia. She transposes letters and has great difficulty reading. Her halting efforts to figure out the words on the page make it difficult for her to follow the story so she also has difficulty with reading comprehension. Every day at school, she struggled to hide her problem.

She did well enough in elementary school with the help of her mother. But when the work became more difficult in the 6th grade, Alya quickly fell behind. Due to the advocacy of Maryan Johnson, one of our Educational Advocates, Alya was placed into regular classes with a regular teacher and a Special Education teacher  who could provide additional support, a model called integrated co-teaching. These teachers really understood her and were able to respond to her needs. Alya excelled!

The demands of high school were a new and overwhelming challenge. Instead of her small middle school, she attended a large bustling high school where it was difficult to know where to turn for help. In addition, the special classroom supports were dropped.  By the end of 10th grade Alya was falling apart. After having been successful, the return to failure at school was just too much for her.  Her frustration soon turned into anger and resistance.  Finally her mother called Ms. Johnson to tell her about these new problems. Ms. Johnson intervened again, getting Alya the proper supports by her junior year. But, Alya couldn’t get past her experience of failure and frustration. She continued to cut classes and refused any special help.  As a result, Alya did not receive any credits for her junior year.  Ms. Johnson knew it was time to take more serious action.

The school district that Alya attends has an alternative high school that is smaller and more supportive. Though resistant at first, Alya came to accept, and eventually really like the idea of going to this new school.  Knowing the admission process was very competitive, Alya worked extremely hard, made many phone calls, and allowed her fun, sweet personality to finally return.  She was accepted to this school and began taking classes there this past summer.  Ms. Johnson has ensured the district will provide any services the alternative school cannot, and Alya has agreed to participate in all of the supports she had previously refused.  She is on track to graduate at the end of this school year.