Everything started out when I was in elementary, 4th grade to be exact. I was formally diagnosed with dyslexia, which is the general term for disorders that involve difficulty in learning to read or interpret words, letters, and other symbols. I had an incredibly difficult time understanding what was written on the page, and then an additionally difficult time pronouncing the words correctly. My constant frustration turned into social isolation as I was forced into special education sessions that were supposed to “help,” but that took up most of my school day and kept me from being a part of my class.
I received constant negative commentary from the other students in my grade, especially one certain individual who didn’t just physically harm me, but hurt me with words and phrases. On top of dealing with the emotional hurts caused by my peers, I also unexpectedly had to deal with hurt caused by my teacher, who at one point pulled me aside during recess and told me this exact phrase that vividly sticks with me today: “You are stupid.”
The destructive educational environment overall made it impossible for my interventions to help me with my speech therapy or help me make progress in understanding the curriculum. Seeing this, my parents made the difficult decision halfway through the year to pull me out of that school and transfer me to a charter school, Oakland Academy.