We choose Joseph's story first because he belongs to us. We are parents of children with disabilities too! Joseph lives with severe social anxiety, a speech problem, sensory issues and a reading issue. There are some other issues we want to get evaluated as well. He is 8 now but his issues really started when he was about 5 going to VPK. Joseph hated going to school and walking through those huge doors in the morning. There were too many kids, it was too loud, and he hated the separation from Mom and Dad. There were days I had to physically hand him over to the teachers. He didn't read very well and felt inferior to his classmates which added to the anxiety. As he entered Kindergarten, the anxiety got worse. Getting him into the school was a physical battle that often lead to tears, frustration, embarrassment and exhaustion and that was just me! We were able to get him an IEP and worked with the school to address and overcome his issues. His speech has improved that he can communicate not only with us but with his peers! His reading is on grade level and his I-Ready scores improved. Its been a lot of work on our part and his but now he is eager and ready to go into the third grade! He truly is my personal hero because with all the things he goes through and overcomes in a typical school day, he still gets up the next morning, takes a deep breath, and does it all over again.
Michael was a sophomore in high school and was told he wasn't going have enough credits to graduate. He needed to double up his Math and English classes. He was already struggling just to keep up and maintain the classes he had. Throughout his prior schooling, Michael never got the proper help or interventions he needed in order to learn. He was barely making passing grades and was just moved along grade levels. The school had not provided Michael an appropriate education, neglecting their responsibilities to him, and considered him lazy and a low priority. At this point, as a sophomore in high school, the school's position was that he needed to take responsibility for himself. He lost all hope in graduating and wanted to quit. He didn't see the point in continuing and was devastated by the work load required of him. Michael's parents talked, pleaded, and argued with the school about getting him some help but got lost in the process because of all of the jargon, "bully tactics" and the lack of cooperation on the school's behalf. His parents felt as if they had failed him. In an act of desperation, they reached out to us for help. When we got involved with Michael and his parents we had him evaluated through the school to find out that he had hidden learning disabilities in reading and math and ADHD! With that information, we were able to get him an IEP that made sense and was tailored to specifically meet his needs. With the new accommodations, goals, and interventions, Michael began to make extensive gains in his classes. He did so well, that he achieved all of his credits and graduated on time with his classmates! This new found confidence and passion for learning has lead Michael to gainful employment so he can pay his way to continue his education at community college and chase his dream to learn the art of animation! He also volunteers at his church helping teach other kids in the children's ministry. Because of donations like yours, Michael found the tools, opportunities, skills and supports he needed to find his purpose in life.
Mom says that he had been struggling for years at home and at school, especially with reading. She said that,
"I felt like he wasn't getting the help he needed at school and was frustrated and feeling supported or heard. Dealing with the school on my own made me feel lost and overwhelmed. You're sitting across a table of several people and you're feeling like you're the only one really fighting for your child. Cornerstone helped my child in so many ways! He is making gains and I feel like our voice was finally heard when Dr. Angel joined our team. She never gives up and will advocate her hardest for your child! She's been a friend and a shoulder to cry on for me. I don't know where we would be without Cornerstone. They go above and beyond to help each child and family. My child is so much further along now because of them. My child is feeling more confident and knows that his needs will be met because he has a team the will never give up on him. I feel now that whatever comes up we will tackle it because I have people on my side that are informed and know how to guide me through it and that is so reassuring. Cornerstone is the best investment you can make when facing these challenges that our children have. I recommend them to every parent I meet who is going through similar situations. I wish I'd met them sooner because we have made so much progress after utilizing their services. They will never know how truly grateful me and my family are for all they have done for our child! Thank you Cornerstone Special Education Alliance!" Amber G.