Education Week - Diplomas Count - Issue 34, 2015 - (Page 9)
BY THE NUMBERS:
SPECIFIC LEARNING DISABILITY
On Road to College, Georgia Student
Learns To Speak for Herself
s By Caralee J. Adams
High School Exit Status (Ages 14-21)
s Graduated with
s Received a
s Dropped out
Number of students with specific learning disabilities
Percent in regular classroom at least 40% of day
Percent of students in special education who have a specific
learning disability (ages 12-17)
n a poem, Gloria L. Clark once wrote that dyslexia
is like loving a guy who doesn't love you
back-and his name is "Word."
Despite her difficulty deciphering words,
the recent high school graduate from Decatur,
Ga., says writing poetry and short stories has
helped her express what it feels like to deal
with dyslexia, the most common disorder in
the broad category of "specific learning disabilities."
Gloria, 18, has two published books of poetry and
gives motivational speeches to young children so others
with dyslexia will know they are not alone.
"Not a lot of kids are open with their disabilities," said
Gloria, who hopes her confidence will make it easier for
others to advocate for themselves. "I don't hide it."
It hasn't always been easy for Gloria to talk about
her dyslexia, a condition of the brain that makes it
hard for a person to read, write, and spell. When she
was first diagnosed in elementary school, Gloria said
she felt like the disorder was an incurable disease and
didn't tell her friends why she came early or stayed
late to get extra help.
Then, the summer before middle school, Gloria's parents,
Christopher and Jenell Clark, posted a list and photos of
famous people with dyslexia, including Tom Cruise and
Steve Jobs, on the wall in her room.
"They said: 'This is why you are going to be amazing,' "
recalled Gloria. "That's when I became a little more open
and became a little more swag with myself. I learned how
BECOMING AN ADVOCATE
By 7th grade, Gloria was leading her individualized
education program meetings and giving 15-minute PowerPoint
presentations. "It's about me. Nobody knows any
more about me than me," she said.
Her mother said she was impressed. "She's a natural extrovert-that's
part of her gift," said Ms. Clark.
To accommodate her dyslexia, Gloria gets extra time, has
a reader, and gets notes taken for her in school. At home
after track practice, she starts working around 6 or 7 p.m.,
rewriting her notes to reinforce lessons, making flashcards,
and sometimes studying until 2 a.m. for a quiz.
Gloria has a 3.3 grade point average at Decatur High
School and just finished an Advanced Placement psychology
class to get a feel for college-level work and to prove to
doubters that she could do it.
While Gloria knew she could excel in college, she was
turned down by her first-choice schools.
"It was hard to accept that most colleges didn't
understand me. I'm so good at speaking up for myself,
standing in front of a crowd and saying, 'This
is who I am.' But for somebody to judge me off of a
piece of paper and test scores ... . I'm average," she
says. "But if you have a conversation with me, I can
tell you I'm a great fit for your college."
Gloria discovered the 3,000-student Brenau
University while tagging along with a friend on a
visit to the Gainesville, Ga., school. A 1,000-student
women's college is a cornerstone of the university.
She met an administrator who called her the next
day, asking Gloria to enroll. "I said, 'You saw my gpa
and my test scores and you still want me?' Wow,"
she recalled. "It was pretty amazing."
Gloria will attend Brenau this year with financial
support from the Georgia State Vocational
Rehabilitation Agency and possibly a track scholarship.
Although she's nervous, Gloria said the
transition to college will be smooth because she has
experience with hardship. "I've never had it easy in
school, so I know how to fight," she said.
Ms. Clark is not worried, either: "I have no hesitation.
She knows how to ask for what she wants. If
not, she knows how to go through the proper chain
NOTE: Because of methodological differences in calculations, data
on high school exit status shown here are not comparable to ACGR
graduation rates presented elsewhere in this report.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education
Gloria Clark, 18, a senior at
Decatur High School in
Georgia, says she wants to
use her experience with
dyslexia to advocate for
others with disabilities.
Gloria said she thinks the small classes at Brenau
will make it easier for her to talk with her
professors about accommodations. To get a jumpstart,
she is going to summer school starting in
July. "It will give me one-on-one time to meet with
my teachers," she said. "I will get settled in, have
my room set up, and by the time everyone else gets
there, ... I'll be able to chill."
Gloria hopes college will be a chance to become a
powerful advocate for people with disabilities, possibly
as a civil rights lawyer, and someday change
the college-admissions process to focus on people's
strengths. "I can't be Superman. I have to have a
community behind me to help me," she said, acknowledging
her family, counselors, and teachers
who have supported her to this point. But she is
ready to advocate on her own and for the next
chapter of her life at college to begin. "I'm excited
to find what I'm good at," she said, "and start my
life and to get it going." s
DIPLOMAS COUNT 2015 s www.edweek.org/go/dc15
Michael A. Schwarz for Education Week
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - Diplomas Count - Issue 34, 2015
Education Week - Diplomas Count - Issue 34, 2015
After Special Ed., Path Is Less Certain
DATA OVERVIEW: Students with Disabilities In School and Work
BY THE NUMBERS: Hearing Impairment
Md. Senior Opts For University Geared To Students With Hearing Impairments
In College, Students Face Choice: Seek Help or Go It Alone?
BY THE NUMBERS: Emotional Disturbance
At Lab School, Pennsylvania Student Prepares for Career In Culinary Arts
After K-12, Students Must Be Self-Advocates
BY THE NUMBERS: Specific Learning Disability
On Road to College, Georgia Student Learns To Speak for Herself
For Job-Oriented Students, Work Experience Is Critical
Discipline Policies Push Students Off College-and-Career Path
BY THE NUMBERS: Autism
Budding Politician Sets Sights on College
State Diploma Requirements Vary
Common Core: Will Bar Rise For Students With Disabilities?
BY THE NUMBERS: Intellectual Disability
In Virginia, Jobs Enable Twin Brothers To ‘Walk Taller’ After High School
Graduation Rates Reach New Highs, But Gaps Remain
TABLE: Graduation Rate Tops 80 Percent
Education Week - Diplomas Count - Issue 34, 2015