My Experience at Amethyst
My son attended Amethyst Provincial Demonstration School for the 2014/2015 school year. He entered Amethyst in grade 10 and was reading around a grade 1 level. His story is probably similar to many Learning Disabled kids, up to the point of entering Amethyst School.
Despite a relatively early diagnosis of a LD and multiple accommodations, modifications, SEA and other assistive technology at school, his reading did not progress. Outside of school our son had been in summer reading programs, practiced reading and was read to, drilled sight words, had a tutor for 5+ years and completed an online fee based neuroplasticity program; yet his reading did not progress. He patiently and repeatedly participated in and endured 8 years of tests and all we could tell him after each test was that he was a very intelligent boy but we hadn’t figured out how to help him read better yet.
After ten months at Amethyst, his reading level is at grade 4 and approaching grade 5. Grade 5 was the goal he set for himself. He is now a functional reader. His written work that used to seem like gibberish and was hard to decipher, is now legible. He uses capitals, punctuation and spell check. He passed the grade 10 Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (which is mandatory for High School graduation in Ontario and 75% is a pass)! He still has a LD but now has skills, strategies, tools and technology to help him bridge the gap and perform like a “regular” kid.
Sending my son away to school was one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make as a parent. Being away from home was exceptionally hard for my son. All the staff at Amethyst is amazing and the support between the teachers and counselors towards the continuation of learning is incredible. It is not easy but it is worth it!
I’m sure things are busy for you at Amethyst. You must wonder from time to time what happens to students after they leave your watch so we thought we would share with you what our daughter has been up to.
After finishing High School with top marks she studied one year of Prehealth Science at Fanshawe College and then completed the two year Paramedic Program at Lambton College. For the past two summers she has worked for the Coast Guard in Newfoundland and is now working full time as a Paramedic in Newfoundland.
She has a passion for her work and is very good at it. The road for her has not been an easy one. As a direct result of her learning disability there have been individuals who have put up road blocks to prevent her from pursuing this career but she would not be stopped!
Our daughter has never forgotten the important skills she learned as a student at The Amethyst School and for that we owe the school a huge debt of gratitude. As parents we couldn’t be happier. She is fully independent, has a meaningful career and she is happy. She is yet another Amethyst success story. Please extend our thanks everyone who makes the Amethyst school the success that it is!
November 15, 2010
“I would like to take a few moments to thank you all for making me a better student. The assistive technology and knowledge I have acquired has made me more confident and has given me a better understanding of who I am. I have set goals for colleges and my years ahead. The most important lesson I was taught was to always believe in myself. Thank you for all the support throughout the years I attended.”
June 19, 2005
On the dawn of my first day at Amethyst, I found myself to be very nervous. The drive was endless and then suddenly it was too short we were there. My mind raced with many thoughts: I don’t know anyone, it is so depressing with all this rain, where do I go in this strange maze, who out of all these people may be in my class, will my teacher like me, will I live to see tomorrow, cool pool. Thankfully Dean yelled out my name and guided us to Skyriders and what was to become my home away from home.
It seemed to be so long ago that my Mom and I worked on the application and now I was here. Would this new school be able to actually help me overcome my learning disability or was I hopeless. My Mom said to never give up so I kept telling myself that. Everyday I woke up thinking I can do this. Yawn. Sigh. Stretch. Really big yawn. I can do my best and try really hard, even though I would like to go back to sleep. I hoped that Amethyst could help me fit in better with kids and help me overcome the odds and succeed in school.
The year has passed quickly. One of my special memories is standing at the very tip of Point Pelee. Everyone wanted to leave and I was walking to the tip. I ignored them and kept going. I think they might have been a bit frustrated with me, but it was so worth it to stand with the water at my toes and on both sides of me. To be standing at the very tip of Canada, the most southern point. More south then some of the states in America. To be all alone in that one moment in time. It was totally a Sebastien moment as no one else, except my Morn, seemed to understand the significance of it.
I must say that I have gotten over the rude awakening of having my wallet stolen at Silver Lake. I am not impressed and most likely won’t ever in my lifetime forget this experience. However, I have made a much cooler wallet out of duct tape that is more important to me, worth less money, and if stolen, I can make myself another one at anytime I would like.
The people at Amethyst who have had the most effect on me would be Jan, Ms. Sontrop, Mike, and Feta. Jan has taught me many things in social skills that have given me a positive sense of self. I can now walk into a room with my shoulders high and am no longer self-conscious. I have become a junior leader in training with Scouts for Beavers and Cubs, which I never would have tried before.
Ms. Sontrop is a wonderful teacher with lots and lots of patience. She has taught me staying in a huff does not help the situation. I can now think a project through and then apply non conventual techniques as a work around to get the job done. I am most proud that I was able to get my homework and math test done by myself without any assistance. This was a first for me.
Mike has given me confidence to go for it. Before it was a dream to become a lifeguard but seemed rather impossible. Now that I have passed my Bronze Medallion it feels like anything is possible, becoming a lifeguard and teaching children to swim.
Feta has always been very encouraging. He always in little ways gives a thumbs up or a smile. He is there after with a good job or a I knew you could do it. This has meant a lot throughout the year.
Academically I have become much more independent. I have lost the hopeless attitude. It has been neat to be just like everyone else and the not the weird kid who has all these problems. Not being centered out has made me think less about it and finally be normal. I was able to just think about school.
Socially I am not teased as much. I think that I have better self-esteem. It has changed me to be on my own away from home. My family relationships have all grown because of this. I think on a whole I am more grown up and much more independent.
My accomplishments at Amethyst for 2004-2005 make me smile because I know that I have done this and it is a big thing. I didn’t think I would do this well. I knew that I would try hard, but somehow I didn’t think that I would succeed. Now that I know that I can do it, next year should be easier and awesome.
Next year I need to work on several things. I need to not take short cuts in my work. I need to be more independent. I need to not say everything that I think! I would like to work on my Bronze Cross and hopefully pass it. I would like to start a mentoring program for the first year students so that they can feel less intimidated by the second year students. I would like to do scuba and level two canoeing. If we go to Point Pelee again, I would still take the time to stand at the very tip and soak it all in.
Overall I have had a very good year at Amethyst. I am looking forward to my second year and to all the new experiences that I will have.