When he was in New York, he had to delicately balance work at his family store and his school schedule. While he wasn’t considered “SLIFE” by standard classifications, he did have gaps in his education because of his absences. Yet, Yousef never ceased to amaze me. He always showed up to school one way or another - whether he had just traveled thousands of miles back from a summer in Yemen or worked an overnight shift.
Ángelo arrived to the U.S. from Honduras as an 18-year-old unaccompanied minor who had been out of school for nearly a decade. He barely remembered to write his name, but his unwavering strength and incredible determination inspired a team of teachers to rally around him—and they watched as Ángelo achieved what many on the outside would have considered impossible.
Literacy is more than learning the alphabet and how to put sounds to symbols. Literacy is about community, and saving lives. It is giving students the recognition that they matter, they have value, and that there is reason to keep pushing forward.
After some considerable convincing, he was evaluated for special education services and received an IEP. As a result, Jose switched schools that could better service his cognitive and behavioral needs. After some time, it was communicated to us that Jose dropped out of his new school and that he was struggling to write words with more than a couple syllables, showing that it was possible he was losing part of his Spanish literacy. What is a student like Jose supposed to do in a system that is not created for students like him? Where does he go to get the ‘best’ and most ‘appropriate’ education?