Shine - by Shannon, Blue Sky parent

She tested in the 99th percentile. At parent-teacher conferences, her teachers spoke about her brilliance.
Her report cards were As and Bs.

The reality though was that she was coasting. She spent her days drawing and daydreaming.
She came home each day with naught a memory of what the day had held. Her teachers were honest
about the fact that she didn't complete classroom work and tests. She had both an IPRC and IEP, but
resources just weren't available, and truthfully, no one really knew what to do with this kid. She was
smart, yet the structure of the traditional school system just didn't work for her. It wasn't that she couldn't
do the classwork; it was that it didn't make sense to make her do it. She had mastered it already. It
wasn't that she couldn't do the tests; it was that she found them boring.

I dragged her to the information session for Blue Sky School. She was sullen and uncooperative. As if
school could be interesting. As if she could want to go.

She slumped in the chair. She did everything in her power to make it clear she wasn't interested. She
got up and moved to the bench at the back of the room and laid down.

“Kiara, would you like a pillow? Come get my keys. I have a pillow in the car.”

Huh? This teacher who had known her for all of twenty minutes was willing to trust her with her keys?
To her car? Confusion reigned. She went and got the pillow. She came back, laid down for a few
minutes, listening carefully with her eyes closed.

She came to me. “I want to draw,” she whispered. I responded that I had no paper, but that the teacher
seemed pretty understanding and I thought she should ask her for paper and a pen. She looked at me,

A few minutes later, she worked up the courage to ask. She came back, shyly smiling and holding a pen
and paper. She tucked herself in underneath the table to draw.

Still listening carefully.

About 70 minutes in, my kid who had spent eight years fading away in the public school system popped
out and up from under the table with shining wide eyes and mouthed to me “I want to go here.”


Kiara is now in her second year at Blue Sky School. She'll be fourteen in April. Next year, she will
officially enter Blue Sky School's high school program.

She still draws throughout the day at Blue Sky School. It is intentionally built into her daily plan, as she is
a gifted artist. She is currently working on a digital mural series, and has painted a number of pretty
cool custom shoes.

Her current customized learning plan has her finishing up grade ten math, developing her leadership
and mentorship skills and teaching peer mental health workshops, in addition to all the “regular” curricular
stuff.  Each quarter, we meet with her coach to update and fine-tune her learning plan to make sure
Kiara's growth is well supported.

Kiara's goals for adulthood change from week to week, but regardless of what she chooses, I am
confident that Blue Sky School is the right choice to get her there.

“Mom, I'm not sure what I want to be, but I'm thinking self-sustaining. Y'know, food in my stomach 'n all.”

“I agree with that goal Kiara. I think that's a wise goal.”


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