Thorn Bushes, Thistles, and Weeds


September 29, 2016

Dear Families,

I realized that I blinked.  The realization struck me as we landed at DIA on Sunday afternoon. My husband and I visited Maddy over the weekend. By visited, I mean we flew in late Friday, spent Saturday with her on campus, and flew out early Sunday morning.  We treasured every minute with her.  On the plane, I reflected on her academic journey. I obtained her permission to share her story with you.

Maddy’s academic journey paved its way through thorn bushes, thistles, and weeds. In second grade, her homework took hours. I mean hours. By third grade, she convinced herself she would never graduate from high school. I battled for her education. I mean battled.  I cried. I yelled. I cried. I pleaded. I cried. Before she entered our family, I earned a graduate degree in curriculum and instruction. I earned awards for my teaching. But I could not help my own daughter.

Determined I needed to help her before any other child, I walked away from the classroom convinced I would never return.  Our journey together took years.  Her standardized test scores in 3rd and 4th grade devastated me. To this day, her CSAP scores from 5th, 6th, and 7th grade remain unopened. But during her years of struggle, she battled. She learned self-advocacy. She learned empowerment. She learned independence. By the end of 7th grade, the light inside clicked. In 8th grade, she earned a membership into the National Junior Honor Society. Still, in high school she continued to struggle; but she had tools.  

Her freshman year, Maddy maintained a cumulative GPA of 4.0.  I know it sounds amazing.  But her academic battle raged. At every opportunity, she did extra credit. Her teachers pleaded with us at conferences to get her to stop. She assured them she needed it. At the end of the semester, her teachers flooded our inbox, baffled. She failed every single final. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. She never gave up. She is my hero. I obtained her permission to share her story for many, many reasons. If I share them all, this letter will never end. I know, right? She graduated with honors last year. She earned, I repeat she earned, an academic scholarship.

The grades that littered her report card until 8th grade resulted in a constant stream of tears. But she overcame it all because she battled.  I respectfully request that you let your child battle. It won’t always be pretty. In fact, if you are like me, it will be excruciating. Opening my eyes, on the other side of my blinking, I can tell you the following with utmost integrity. I would walk the same road in a heartbeat. I would shed each tear again. I would let her struggle all over again. I would let her fail over and over again. Why? She personifies resilience.

If your student does not struggle, rest assured. I have one of those, too. Tune in next week, when I share the joys of raising an academic powerhouse. And by joys, I mean frustrations and annoyances that are second to none. Insert eye rolling emoji here.

Honored to Serve You All,

Janet Worley

Food for Thought: #huhchallenge The New Way to Bully-Anonymously Just after completing this letter, I learned of a disturbing trend on social media, the #huhchallenge. My Food for Thought correlates to that trend in an attempt to keep you informed. Additionally, it was the topic of discussion for Hawk Time today. Please read the article and discuss this trend with your student. I would encourage you to simply ask your student(s) if they play the #huhchallenge. Ask them when you can watch their reaction. They will be shocked you know what it is. Our SVA house is safe for all. Please know that I will never shy away from hard issues.

Food for Thought: If your Kid Left His Term Paper at Home-Don’t Bring it to Him

Great article and a reminder to me as a parent- especially with high school student and GPAs that impact future success. But, I know that I teach him nothing if I don’t allow consequences for choices.

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