Hello, my name is Kelly! I am from Charlotte, North Carolina, am 20 years old, and have a learning difference. I’m currently in my junior year of college at East Carolina University, and am majoring in Psychology, which I intend to continue studying on into graduate school. Eventually, I want to open my own practice and provide testing for students with potential learning differences.
In the second grade, it was discovered that I had a LD, and learning that I was “different” from my peers was a huge struggle for me. But after the shock wore off, it was time to come up with a plan. My parents and school counselors had a meeting and set fourth my 504 plan. The 504 plan is a law that helps protect students with learning difference by giving them moderate workloads and accommodations.
I went through the rest of elementary school using the accommodations off of the 504 plan. Some of my teachers permitted me to use my accommodations while others didn’t. But even with the extra help, school was an extreme struggle. In the afternoons, I would get off the school bus and sit down and do my homework until two o’clock in the morning; that was just to get by. I was told by many people that I was a kid who would just make poor to average grades. These words hurt both my confidence and my feelings down to the core. I didn’t understand how they could not see how hard I was trying.
Everything was a struggle up until the fifth grade. That was when an atomic bomb went off. It was the worst year of my life. Homework and test became extremely difficult, I had to stay in from rescues and other activities to finish worksheets, and my peers picked me on because I was quote-on-quote “slow” in their eyes. On top of everything, my teacher was not following my 504 plan for my accommodations.
My mother saw how much I was hurting and was getting frustrated with the school system for their lack of support. She then started doing research to try to get me into a different school that would better understood learning differences, as well as provided the proper support and environment that I needed. That was when we came across The Fletcher School in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The student to teacher ratio was 7 to 1. Because the classroom environment was small, teachers were better able to focus on their students and each student’s unique learning difference. One great aspect of Fletcher was that they taught students not only how to learn with their learning differences, but also how to advocate for themselves. At first I was very timid entering middle school. But as time went by, I was able to trust the adults around me. I saw that they were truly trying to help me and that they actually cared. My life had completely changed for the better.
I continued attending Fletcher all the way through high school. My grades started to soar and I became very active in the community. I was treasurer of our Beta Club, captain of the volleyball team, President of our Juniorettes chapter, and played on the golf team. I even was the state treasurer for the Juniorettes as well. I began to understand that my LD was not a curse, but a blessing. It made me realize I can achieve my goals with the right tools and support. It took me years to figure this out, but I would not have been able to do it without the support of my mother and the amazing staff of The Fletcher School.
Before, college was not on my mind at all. It was something that just didn’t seem possible at the time. But now I am living and breathing it, and I love every second! My plan is to continue on with my education, get my master’s degree in psychology, and open my own practice.