A Fresh Start

A time I overcame many difficult challenges, had trouble learning, failed a grade, and went back to school after a long period of time:

It all started when I was born with Eustationary tube dysfunction which creates major ear problems. As a result, my learning was delayed.

Public school is where I failed as a potential good student. I was put in a grade one-two split class. That’s when the teachers began to trigger the diminishment of my confidence.

When I was in the first grade my teachers and principals noticed I was really behind with my reading abilities. I do not know if it was because of my hearing impairment or simply because I did not have the support I needed at home. So they decided it would be in my best interest to repeat grade one.

When I was in the second grade, it was mandatory that I sit at the front of the class so that I could stand a chance of hearing my teacher clearly. This was that very same teacher who took the time to see that not only was my hearing impaired, but I also struggled with learning disabilities. I read phonetically which slows me down because when reading I must sound out each letter and then decode what I hear. To this day I must read out loud because if I do not hear what I am reading then I struggle with decoding each word. As for my spelling, it is quite humorous for tutors and teachers to read because they have to read like I do pronounce each letter as they come and decode my words. Without even trying I write in code.

The years went by and by, times just got worse.

On June 30, 2005 I graduated on my 20th birthday. As much as I was older than my peers I was proud that with perseverance and determination I graduated high school without giving up. Not only with honors Dogwood high school diploma but also a carpentry certificate and apprenticeship.

Almost a decade later, I found myself standing outside of Nanaimo Literacy Central desperately trying to work up enough courage to walk in and see what they had to offer. I knew that although I was well educated, I still could not read the simplest thing such as greeting cards and mail. I was also a young mother now. I dreamed of being able to read to my own daughter to break the cycle of not only illiteracy, but also child abuse.

I soon received a tutor, after studying for a year she asked me if I was interested in going back to school. Although I still had a hard time believing in myself we decided I had the potential to take on University. However, I had a couple of barriers in my way. For example I had spent the majority of my time avoiding computers. So I quickly received a computer tutor so that I could learn as much as possible before enrolling into school. I also did an assessment test. My results showed that in just one year I went up two grades in English. That was the day my tutor truly saw a change in my self-esteem and confidence.

I soon started English at Vancouver Island University. I wrote my first midterm exam in the disability center and to my surprise I received a 92% an A+. My teacher then pulled me aside and asked if I would consider writing my Final Exam in the classroom. He said he truly believed it would have a positive effect on my confidence. So I took his advice and to my amazement I was the first student to complete the exam and once again earned A+.

My teacher was right. I now have confidence because I know that I have overcome many challenges, while dealing with learning disabilities. Even though I may have failed a grade and went back to school after a long period of time. I am looking forward to facing the many opportunities that I have in the future.

Lisa’s story is one of many success stories that are possible due to your support of literacy programs. Her story was submitted to our Literacy is Life contest through our partner organization, Literacy Central Vancouver Island.

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