Do I have a future? Do I count? I don’t have any plans when I leave high school in a couple of months.
These were some of the comments shared by a group of students getting ready to face the world of adulthood but not ready to do so. They had spent their entire lives inside classrooms filled with accommodations, shorter lessons, and special requirements.
Some could read, write, perform math skills and answer basic questions. Some could not. They struggled to understand or comprehend how the basics of education would fit into their lives long-term.
As a speech and language therapist I was called to this district because a therapist had quit in March and they needed someone to fulfill Public Law 94.142 for students with disabilities. I stepped into the challenge not knowing that I would be forever changed by this experience.
I won’t fill this page with every single detail about how the weeks between March and May unfolded but I will share this.
The questions, exercises, and principles of the Path created a spring board into the future for many of these students. The powerful questions inside the Path Curriculum stirs the heart, mind and senses of students. It makes them hungry for a future that they know they can create. The Path is not attached to GPA, or Achievement, or Test Scores, or Diagnostic Tests. It is a clearing process of Self-Efficacy and Self Advocacy. Not just for students with special education requirements. It is proven to work the same way for all students.
What began to happen with the students in front of me was life changing. For them and me. They started feeling in charge of their future. There was a sense of identity that flowed from them that had not been there before. Teachers were sharing with me that they could not believe the change, the spark, and the enthusiasm that filled the classroom each week as we met. One teacher shared that Susie was so excited about her talent shield that she wanted to become an artist and draw for people that could not draw. In less than eight weeks students were excited about their future. They were going to graduate and leave the classrooms of security and support behind them. They knew they needed more than a Certificate of Completion. The Path gave that too many of them.
Since that experience in 2002 I have not looked back. I made a claim to see the Path and Path Elements in every high school. Having shared the Path with over eight thousand students at this point, I am on a mission to see each student realize that they have a future, that they matter, and that they CAN have a solid plan and path when they leave high school.
You can join this mission and movement too. Get involved. Join the Path Tribe.
Shelly Shepherd, California
Path Coach and Trainer