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JWYC received a letter from a student praising Compass Academy – Lycoming, and the goals that she achieved as a student:

Stacey* writes: “My name is Stacey* and I am 17 years old.  I am a part of the foster care system.  I live a very complicated life.  True, most people my age have different complications, but due to me being in the system, I feel that it is harder for me to connect, and be accepted by other people.  The place that I noticed this the most was in a school setting.  Other teens would see me differently and would not treat me the same, all because of my home life.

I felt like an outcast due to something that wasn’t even necessarily my fault.  Some of my teachers even would treat me different.  I would get different assignments, or a different time frame to get things done.  One of he the things that bothered me the most was the looks of pity I would get or when I would hear adults talking about me and my situation when they thought I couldn’t hear them.

I lived a different life than other students, but I wasn’t a different type of student.  I love learning.  I love meeting new people and connecting with them.  It was hard for me to go to school because of these things.  Since I struggled with creating connections, I tended to become a part of the groups who got into trouble.  I often thought “since they all think I am a screw-up, why not let them be right.”  This is how I got in trouble, which got me sent to JusticeWorks, Compass Academy.  JusticeWorks was an alternative school and I was unsure of what my reaction to the different environment.  I thought I would hate it.

On my first day (and the whole first week really) I was quiet.  I hardly talked to anyone, instead I just did my work and observed everything.  I noticed that the teachers were more willing to actually talk to the students and give us the space to learn that we needed.  I never felt judged or different from the other students.  I made easy connections with my peers and teaches as well.  No one cared where I came form just who I was and what I needed.

One of my teachers asked me to share my story with him and I was very nervous that he would give me those looks of pity that I was used to getting.  The exact opposite happened.  He looked at me with a deeper level of respect after he knew my story.  In that moment, I felt that I belonged there.  Personally, I believe that it is impossible to learn in an uncomfortable environment. Especially since we are subjected to being there for 8 hours, five days a week.

Recently I was told that I was evaluated by the school. Due to my good grades and good behavior, it is being recommended that I go back to the public school.  If I am being completely honest, I am absolutely terrified of being back.  I feel like I am losing the good connections that I have gained.  The sense of belonging that I found in JusticeWorks, Compass Academy will be lost.  I will be thrown right back into the chaos of the public school environment.  I won’t have the support that I have grown to love.

If I had a say in the decision, I would chose to complete my senior year at the alternative school and stay in the comforting environment.  Unfortunately, I do not have a say in the decision.”

Thank you for the kind letter regarding our Compass Academy Staff and program.  We are proud of your accomplishments and want you to know that we will continue to be a resource for you during your transition back to the public-school setting.  We will continue to support you for as long as you need our support!