Delaney Thomas


Growing up, I never found learning to be an easy feat.  Since elementary school, I have suffered from a learning disability known as dyscalculia (a math learning disability that impairs the ability to learn number related concepts and perform mathematical calculations), which in turn caused a lot of stress and doubt that I could ever pass grade school.  It got to the point where I was bullied for my disability, resulting in my purposefully leaving the class just to get away from being called on to answer problem solving questions; I just knew my brain couldn’t understand.  The more the years went on, the more I beat myself up over it and the worse the bullying got. 

In ninth grade, I reached a breaking point.  I was berated by students and teachers alike, causing me to reach a very dark time in my life.  I withdrew from school because I saw no reason to keep trying.  I was tired of the physical and verbal assault from students; I was tired of the lack of help from teachers as well.  I had told myself that I was “too dumb” and “not enough” to be able to do anything with my life.  All the mixed emotions I was feeling became too much and I took a step back from it.  In a way I was grateful for it, but I was also discouraged because I had become a high school dropout.  I spent a year and a half without any education other than trying to homeschool myself without any knowledge of what I was doing, and since I was constantly doubting myself, I didn’t see a point in it anymore.  It took a while to find that drive in me again though, and after many trial and errors in multiple programs, I found one that I can proudly say changed my life for the better.

I came into the Adult Education Program at the Kokomo Area Career Center when I was 18.  At first, I was reluctant to the idea of doing things all over again given I had just been through other programs.  I was expecting the teachers to be like all the previous ones who didn’t really care about their students and didn’t offer help to those who really need it.  Slowly, my teachers became like family.  They encouraged me to reach for my goals, no matter how far and scary they might have seemed.  They always helped me with every worksheet, every pre-test, and even sat with me when I had meltdowns about not fully understanding things.  They saw me not as just a normal student, but as a person who was rebuilding her goals and dreams—and for that I will be forever grateful.  Teacher Jenifer Scott added, “Delaney opened up to us from the very start about the struggle she had previously had with her education.  We worked together and found ways that she learned best.”

There were definitely bad days—days I just wanted to give up or not come in at all.  If it wasn’t for my amazing support system from Jenifer Scott and Alice Guest, I think maybe I wouldn’t be telling this story today.  Nevertheless, I did have pauses and doubts when things got a bit too hard.  I took month long breaks and extended my time in the program due to the fear of failure, the fear of “what if I don’t pass?”  That is normal.  We all get scared sometimes, but something that helped me come back every time was the endless amount of support and encouragement my teachers offered me.  They believed in me even when I saw no improvements within myself.  

When the time came for my TASC test, I felt very unprepared.  Even though I was scoring a 99% on every pre-test I was taking, I was still extremely scared of what would happen if I failed.  My teachers made me as comfortable as possible when I went in to take my tests and I think that was a very big stress reliever for me.  Even after I passed my tests, they still showered me with celebration that really helped me boost my confidence.  I realized then that I didn’t need any extra help, all I needed was to believe in myself like everyone else believed in me.  I’m not usually a believer in miracles, but with just a small ounce of courage, I was able to pass all my tests on the first try.  Alice Guest said, "I am so proud of Delaney and appreciate her determination! Helping her progress and seeing her evolve into a more confident student is an inspiration!" 

This may be a small success story to some, but for me it’s a huge step into starting my life.  I was belittled for years into thinking I was not smart enough to graduate, and that a learning disability that took away years of my life would take all the rest of them.  One thing I can proudly say is that even through all the hardships, I stayed with the program and rebuilt myself.  If you’re suffering with self-doubt, or at a low point in your life, just remember there will be better days to come.  With just the smallest ounce of faith you can achieve many, many things.  Don’t be afraid to take a leap into the unknown because you may surprise yourself with the things of which you’re capable.  If you’ve lost a reason to keep going, do this for yourself because you deserve to be proud of yourself. “It’s student success stories like Delaney’s that make our work a mountaintop experience. That, we get to be a part of a student’s journey is truly an honor and makes me very proud of our program and staff. It’s about changing lives,” claims teacher, Janet Geier-Moriarty. 

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