Hello my name is Bettie-Jeanne Hassall, and I am 22 years old and I have a learning disability. I found out in grade three that I have a learning disability. I struggled with reading and writing. In grade three I would be taken out of class to work in smaller groups. This helped a little but did not improve my reading or writing skills.
By the time I was in grade seven my school had got the programs Kurzweil and Dragon Natural Speaking. There were three of us in my class that used these programs. We would be sent to the back of the classroom and forgotten about. We did not know how to properly use the programs and it upset us. I later learnt how great both those programs are when I went to Sagonaska. It was in grade seven that I went though the testing to get into Sagonaska. I was informed that my reading and writing skills were still at the grade two level. Once they told me that I would be attending Sagonaska my mother was very happy that I had this opportunity. She too has a learning disability and wonders where her life would have taken her if she had gotten the chance to take part in a demonstration school. Once I had gotten to Sagonaska i had some trouble getting used to being away from home in my first year. Second year I did amazingly. My reading and writing was brought up to my grade nine level where it should of been at that time. With the small class sizes of 5-7 we all got the attention we needed to improve. We got the help we needed with Kurzweil and Dragon. I ended up falling in love with reading and any extra time I had I would have a book in my hands. It was hard to leave Sagonaska, the teachers and the counsellors became like a second family, not to mention my class mates. Going back to my home school was a scary though but our teachers helped get us ready for it. They showed us how to let our teachers know about our learning disabilities. I made sure I got the help I needed from my teachers when I wasn't sure on something. I also did really well in both my grade eleven and twelve English class. Once I was done with high school I moved on and went to college! Something I never though about before going to Sagonaska. I was not sure how I would get through high school. I completed my college experience in 9 months with an 93% average. I still keep in touch with a lot of the people I went to Sagonaska with. One of them I got married to. He's name is Chris Grenon and we had spent our two years at Sag together. After he left Sagonaska he went to college for forest technician. We have been together now for over three years and we are expecting our second child. It is scary that our children might not have the chance to go to the school that helped us both so much if they need it. All our children should be giving the chance to do their absolute best. Some of us do not fit into how our school system works. We need schools like Sagonaska demonstration school to give every child their shot at success. Thanks, Bettie-Jeanne Hassall