“My attitude about school has completely changed.”

Before enrolling at HELP Miami I struggled in two different public schools. I remember in kindergarten counting out loud “twenty-nine, twenty-ten, twenty-eleven” and having my teacher yell at me for being wrong. I remember being screamed at for not being able to read very well. None of this actually helped me learn. The attitude of the teachers was that if you couldn’t read or do math, it was your problem.

If I didn’t understand something, the teacher simply didn’t care. If I did raise my hand to ask for help the answer was usually, “I said it once, you didn’t hear it, we’re moving on.” I didn’t feel like I was learning. I didn’t have a favorite academic subject and I didn’t think I was good at any subject except art.

I was given multiple-choice tests before I even knew how to read properly. Because I didn’t know what the words were, I would just guess at the answers and I failed almost all the tests. My mom would ask me after school what I learned that day and I would just say, “Nothing,” and it was true.

Neither school treated me as an individual. I felt like I was a number or a file. That’s how all the kids were treated–Kid A, Kid B–it was horrible.

Thankfully my mother found H.E.L.P. Miami.

My first teacher at HELP taught me how to read fluently. I couldn’t even read the word “the” when I started but she worked with me and helped me sound out every single word until I could really do it.

Whenever I have a question or need help with something, I am encouraged to ask so I can get it cleared up. The teachers make sure that you actually understand things before moving on to the next. This seems like something you would expect in a classroom, but in my old schools the teachers would get annoyed or angry with me if I needed help so I was almost scared to ask.

Part of H.E.L.P. Miami is being taught how to study. Before I did the Learning How to Learn Course I had no idea how important knowing the definitions of words was. If you know what every word means in every sentence and in every paragraph, you will have a REAL understanding of what you are learning. I even help other students using what I have learned by getting them to look up words they do not know or go back to before they got confused to find the word they could not define.

My attitude about school has changed completely at H.E.L.P. Miami. I have favorite subjects and feel like I am good at them. Last year my favorite was debate because it helped me overcome my shyness. My teacher told me that I could have a career in public speaking as I did so well. I remember going home every day after school telling my mom all about what I learned and how great class was. I have discovered that I really love learning about politics, government and history. I want to go to college and continue studying which is something that I don’t think would have happened if I stayed in public school.

The teachers and staff really care and they treat every single student with individual attention and respect. My teachers really like teaching and that makes the students like learning even more. When you learn something at HELP Miami, you really learn it–not just to memorize information or pass a test but to actually remember it and use it later on. This has made all the difference for me and I feel like I am actually getting an education.

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