I am 22 years old and I have a learning disability. My grade school experience was horrible. I was bullied because I have a learning disability and would be taken out of class for help. My classmates thought I was stupid. Teachers did not have the time (because of classroom sizes) and the specialized training to deal with my learning disability;
it also made the bullying worst. I would be taken out of class to work one on one with a teacher, this did not help with my ADHD as I was not stimulated enough. I would be given below grade level work to occupy my time, the teachers were trying to make me feel normal but when it came down to it I simply didn’t fit into the regular classroom. This of course only gave my bullies more reason to pick on me. Some nights I would feel down because I had to go to school the next day and I knew that my bullies would still be there day in and day out. I felt absolutely helpless despite my parent’s effort to do damage control. I had no way of getting around or away from the bullies. My older sister went to Sagonaska three years before I started there. I was really excited to go because of how accepting everyone was of my sister and how well she improved. I learnt a lot from my sister and so I got the testing done to go. The thought of moving away from home was a scary one for me when I was just 12 years old but I knew that this was the best choice for me and I would get the help I needed. The first day I arrived at Sagonaska I experienced something new, I was accepted by my peers. I was relieved that we all understood each other; it was nice being somewhere where I fit in. When I first started Sagonaska I was very shy when it came to reading in class or giving speeches. With the help from my teachers and the small classroom sizes I now enjoyed being the loudest voice in the room. I learnt strategies that I would not have learnt in the regular school system; to deal with my dyslexia and my math skills. My most important lesson that Sagonaska taught me was how to advocate for myself and to respect myself. Another thing I learnt is there is no such thing as a learning disability; just learning differently. When I got out of Sag I was already in high school for my grade ten year. I had the confidence to make friends and my reading level was above the norm. With these new found skills I made the decision to go to college. After making honour roll in high school I continued onto college in the intense forest technician program. After graduating I became an arborist. With my college education and a good job I bought my first home when I was just 21 years old. I married my lovely wife Bettie-Jeanne, whom I first meet at Sagonaska. Without Sagonaska I would not have gone onto college and would not have had the confidence to work with any co-workers. I feel that if the school closes there will be many children that will grow up in a school system that is not able to cater to the exceptional needs of children with learning disabilities and they will be left behind. Without the help from demonstration schools like Sagonaska the kids that are left behind won't have the skills they need to succeed in their education, leaving them without the know how to get into college and a good paying job. I fear that if my children have a learning disability they may not get the chance to learn differently and become successful, they will be forgotten by the system. My hope is to get a better education system not a cheaper one.
Thanks, Christopher Grenon.