The Every Student Succeeding Recognition Program honors students who exceed expectations. Students who persevere and succeed against all odds. These students are successful because of all who support them and the dedicated educators who have taken the time and made the effort to ensure their students’ success. This year, 21 students (2 were adult ed students!) were highlighted and awarded. Students who stood out amongst millions. These Every Student Succeeding recipients are extraordinary examples of perseverance, dedication, maturity and grace.
On every school day throughout California, dedicated educators and courageous students overcome tremendous obstacles to reach their goals of academic excellence. Their powerful stories are our inspiration. Every Student Succeeding program honors students who exceed expectations, and the educators who support them along the way. These young men and women have overcome great obstacles to succeed. They have faced life’s challenges head on. Their stories are remarkable and their futures are bright. The purpose of this award is to honor students who have succeeded, against all odds, beyond expectations --
They have won the hearts of the administrators and other educators who helped them achieve their goals.
When Dominic was 13 months old, it wasn’t even sure if he would live. As a failure to thrive child, weighing only 11 pounds at 13 months, he had many obstacles to overcome. Doctors cautioned us, as his soon-to-be adoptive parents, that his progress would be difficult and that he would struggle to meet even the basic milestones. They speculated that he would endure many physical difficulties and that he might not ever walk.
Dominic was a fighter and fought to survive and to live. At the age of three, he had just begun to walk (despite some Dr.s cautioning us that he might never walk). He was seeing two physical therapists to help him with balance and strengthening issues– He was almost completely non-verbal until age three, with very few being able to understand what little he did say. Through the help of speech therapists, one at the Bangor Elementary School, Dominic “gradulated” (as Dominic put it in the 1st grade) with amazing and spectacular progress.
At age four, Dominic was diagnosed by UCD with a rare genetic condition known as Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. This condition causes chronic pain, arthritis-like symptoms, hyper-mobility, dislocations and sub-luxations in addition to headaches, backaches, joint pain and multiple other symptoms. He takes pain medication regularly to help him cope. Ehlers Danlos can make some of the simple things that most of us take for granted difficult. Learning and even playing can drain a child with Ehlers Danlos. Sometimes even waking up is more than his small body (45 lbs now at age 9) can take. It requires a supportive network to help a child with special needs. The caring and committed staff at Bangor School ensures that Dominic has the support he needs to succeed. They are to be credited with much of his success. His first grade teacher, Mrs. Roenspie, would see that Dominic was suffering and that he was having a hard time walking because his ankles were in so much pain, due to the EDS. She would have him sit near her desk and as she taught, she massaged his feet. The school health aide made sure that in the summer months Dominic was lathered in sunscreen to protect his fragile skin. She made sure his braces were put on at the right times and removed as well (he had to wear leg braces to keep his knees from dislocating). And every staff member helped Dominic to be safe, as his mobility issues caused frequent falls and injuries. There were many supportive staff members involved in protecting Dominic and helping him through good and bad days. In the fourth grade, Mrs. Huddleson has been known to give up her cushioned teacher’s chair to help provide additional comfort for Dominic’s aching body. Dominic does require the use of a special padded chair in class to help give comfort to his body as well as to provide support to his hyper-mobile joints. He is required to wear special braces on his fingers to stabilize his joints and prevent breakage of his fingers when he writes.
Going from basically non-verbal when he first was seen in the Bangor Elementary school by their speech therapist, Rob Gibson, to now in the fourth grade as a part of the Accelerated Reading Program, Dominic continues to prove what a outstanding support group can do! This last year, with the help of teachers and staff at the Bangor Union Elementary School, Dominic helped coach basketball (and even played against the school staff) and joined the Bangor School cross-country team. While he never won a cross country challenge, he also never gave up! Every race brought the cheers of parents, coaches and teammates.
It is this perseverance that has helped him succeed against all odds!