Summer’s over and here comes the rush. Soon we’ll be seeing excited children in shiny new shoes and highschoolers in perfect uniform (for once!). Maybe it’s only because I know to look for them, but I also see the girls– the ones who are just as I was— dragging themselves around, dreading the start of another school year. There is only frustration and fear.
I started elementary school like every other girl in the class, eager to enter the magic of school. But I came to realize that it had a dark side that turned into daily nightmares as I struggled to understand the lessons and keep up. I was not the “methodical” learner and could not digest much of the learning.
One can’t know what it’s like to sit in class day after day, year after year and only understand a little of what’s going on. One can’t know what it’s like to watch your friends and classmates receive compliments for their achievements, while knowing your own grades will never merit that praise.
As I moved on to high school, I earned a medal every morning that I showed up at school. I crossed a finish line every time I made it through a full day of classes before running home and dumping my briefcase on my bedroom floor.
Sad to say, but I hardly never encountered a teacher who offered to help me overcome my challenges by measuring my success differently or helping me learn in a personal way.
Until last year.
It was difficult, but after a lot of consideration and back and forth I decided to put my education first. I decided that my friends I could go back to, but not crucial years of learning. And so together with my parents, I took the leap and switched. Yes, I switched from my big school with all my friends to a smaller one. And it was here that I found my definition of a school.
Can you imagine the feeling of finally seeing the classroom as a happy place? To finally feel smart and able to compete. To finally understand, make progress and enjoy learning. To love school and look forward to the next day.
It was the staff at Ohr Chana that made that happen for me.
The class was small but that’s what was so great! I was a part of a group in which every girl was a whole world with open doors. Where every girl was a contributing member who could learn and develop on her level. It was here that I learned and grew in ways I’ve only watched my friends do until now.
Through their individualized classes I caught up. Not because they watered down the information, but because they raised me up and helped me understand my own style of learning. And I still walked back home from school with my friends and kept up with them, besides for making new ones.
I already see the girls who are dreading the beginning of another school year. I recognize them because I was one of them, just going through the motions. I wish they would make the decision I made so they too can love learning and life the way every highschooler is entitled to.
So please, if you see these girls walking the streets, please reach out to them and tell them for me. Tell them we have a place now to call our own. Tell them Ohr Chana exists. Tell them change has come to Crown Heights.
Ohr Chana Vocational Academy is located in the heart of Crown Heights and specializes in an individual, customized learning environment for 9th and 10th grade girls. Visit the Ohr Chana website at www.ohrchana.org or contact Mrs. Zeesy Piamenta at 718.735.4044, 347 200 0632 or [email protected]