This week’s guest blogger is Bernie Whitely, a tremendously inspiring high school student who has worked with Yellow Parachute Learning Partners for a few years. Here is part 1 of her guest blog:

My name is Bernie. I’m one of five kids. I’m going to be a junior at Blake High School this fall and I have dyslexia. I have been working with the Learning Coaches at Yellow Parachute Learning Partners for a while now.

I was officially diagnosed with dyslexia when I was in elementary school, which I’ve always considered to have been lucky… I’m lucky to have been able to start working on it at a really young age. Some of the earliest symptoms for my parents was that I would speak in opposites. For example, if I was cold I’d say “I’m really hot,” or when I’d see a white plastic spoon, and I’d say “can you hand me the black spoon?”

When I was in kindergarten and first grade, I remember having a tremendous amount of anxiety around school. I was worried that when it was my turn to read in front of the class that I wouldn’t be able to do it. I think I felt really different than a lot of my peers… I’ve always had to work so much harder. I would say I didn’t have a typical childhood because the work of learning and understanding what my peers could always took me longer than it did them. I had a great deal of anxiety around not knowing what I was doing.

As I got older that changed, I am so lucky to have what I do have and have these resources.

Math and sciences, especially in middle school, have always been pretty difficult for me. My freshman year of high school is when I was like “whoa, this is crazy.” I really felt overwhelmed. I was worried about all the wrong things… I was worried about if I was going to get physically lost in high school, when in reality, I probably should have been worried about the academic rigor of going to Blake. Going to Blake is difficult for anyone, because the rigor and level of expectations are high. It is especially tough if you have dyslexia or another learning disability.

I would say my sophomore year of high school is when I really started to figure things out. Now, not only am I doing well, but I actually really love school… but it actually wasn’t always that way. I remember I would go to class and I was like “If the teacher calls on me, it’s not going to be good!”

Through guidance of the people I’ve worked with at Yellow Parachute Learning Partners they’ve been able to really tailor learning strategies for me and what I was struggling with, whether that was dyslexia or anxiety. What I liked most is that my Learning Coaches gave me good guidance, but they didn’t give me the answer. They taught me skills for my future. They helped break down the larger umbrella topic of subjects. Even when I’m taking a test and I can’t figure something out, that’s okay. What I’ve learned is I’m going to get up, I’m going to take a deep breath and then I’ll come back. When my mind is going and going, it’s really hard to hone that in and sometimes I need a break. These are the types of skills I’ve learned that have helped not only with dyslexia, but also with anxiety.

Whenever I’m asked by someone who is worried ‘tutoring” might be boring, or won’t work, I would say it gets easier the longer you do it. Even though it can be super-exciting all the time, it is important to simply keep going and push through. It is about working hard and having patience even if it is difficult or boring.

Yellow Parachute Learning Partners