Alanna Fowler's Thesis

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  • 18 July 2019

I'm writing this paper today to show how I have grown to be a productive person in society, and how my education helped me achieve that.

In 2004, when I was three years old, my mother started homeschooling me.  She taught me simple things like shapes, colors, how to spell my name, ect.  We traveled a lot, and it was the best option for my family. Around age seven I started going to a small  homeschooling group where I learned basic math and beginning reading. That summer I went to a camp at Hudson Valley Sudbury School.  I enjoyed it a lot and asked my parents if I could enroll. They were hesitant at first but decided to give it a try. When my dad started suffering from kidney failure in 2009, the structure of the school worked very well for us. We had a lot of appointments to go to and the school’s flexibility allowed me to stay with my father.   My parents wanted me to have fun at school and have a place that I could be myself. So this is how I started my journey at Sudbury.

When I initially enrolled, my reading was still poor, but with help from some friends I met at Sudbury my reading got better and better.I was a naturally shy person but slowly started to come out of that by being in a safe and accepting environment.  Being free enough to explore my personality and focusing on being a young kid helped me become more comfortable with myself. I started to take more responsibility for my life, and gained more respect for myself, my things, and the people around me. I wasn't focusing much on studies at that time; I was just enjoying feeling free. 

 Next I want to explain my transition into public school. I enrolled my freshman year at Saugerties High School.  I wanted to try something new. This was a big learning experience in itself. Right off the bat i was told that the school would not help me “catch up” because a lack of education is not an excuse to warrant help. I was told I would be a freshman forever if i didn't do things the traditional way.  I signed up anyways despite the discouragement and did my best. I got good grades in the beginning. But after a while I became depressed with my whole life, school, friends, family, ect. I was associated with toxic people that were dragging me down.. My grades started to slip, and so did my social life.  On January 1st, 2017, I overdosed, and a few weeks later I was taken to Four Winds Hospital after attempting suicide. I was there for two weeks, and during that time I worked hard on building myself back up from rock bottom. We did group therapy and exercises to help cope with stress like deep breathing, meditation, fronting your fears, and putting yourself in situations that make you uncomfortable to overcome them.  The first few days were rough, but by the end of it I felt like myself again - even better, actually. I adapted to my surroundings and got more comfortable where I was. Adapting to situations has always been easy for me and putting my mind to something are two of my strong points. After all this my mother didn't think that the public school was good for my mental health and she started to arrange for me to go back to Sudbury.  I needed to heal and Sudbury is where i needed to be.

I began Sudbury again that March.  Everyone was nice and kind to me when I returned.  I wanted to do something to focus my energy on so I  asked a staff member if I could enroll in a career-tech program at Ulster BOCES. Originally I  wanted to take the cosmetology program, but it was full. Instead, I enrolled in the welding program.  My sister had done a lot of work with blacksmithing, and I wanted to try something like that. My first day was a bit nerve racking, I wasn't sure if I was gonna enjoy it or not, but when I laid my first bead in the SMAW booth I was so happy I didn't end up in cosmetology.  At BOCES I grew close with many of my classmates and my instructors. I know SMAW, TIG, MIG and Oxy acetylene. I can weld in flat vertical horizontal and over-head, and I have experience reading blueprints and mechanical drawings. I will be AWS and NOCTI certified in May 2019.  After graduating from Sudbury and BOCES, I plan on attending SUNY Ulster for a few basic classes before transferring to a four year college to get a BA in Criminal Psychology. During this time I hope to be working in a local welding shop to help pay for my education. Luckily, welding is something I can always rely on if my ideal career doesn't work out.  Right now my life consists of attending BOCES and being one of two main caregivers for my father, who requires special care like home hemodialysis and help feeding, getting medications, bathing, and dressing. I also help raise my two younger brothers who are four and almost two, i've taught them to walk, along with teaching them colors, animals, and dinosaurs. they have helped me with patience, empathy, and understanding. I owe a lot of my growing to my brothers and I will always cherish them for that, I love be able to watch them grow into their own individual selves. Sudbury school has given me years with my father that i would not have had if i was in a “traditional school.” I'm so thankful for the ability to take care of my family and to have the flexibility with my schooling to do so. 

I want to mention a few examples of how I've learned to adapt to different situations. The first major one is when I was eight I learned to help my dad when he first got sick. I adapted to having to be the support for him instead of him supporting me. The second big one for me was when I went into a completely different school format that I had never experienced  before. I got good grades for the most part without having a “formal educational “ background. I think that was because of going to sudbury and having confidence in myself to be able to do anything I set my heart on. The same thing happened at BOCES. I went there with the intentions of doing awesome and that's what I did. Another time I felt confident with myself is actually when I was at my lowest.  I was struggling with my mental health I told my mom I needed treatment and got what I needed. I knew I was suffering and needed help. Attending Sudbury taught me to trust myself no matter what and that we are all EQUAL and that is ok to need help. When I returned to Sudbury I adapted to being there by making my plan for BOCES, and I did what was needed to do it. I worked very hard and it shows because I have one of the highest grades in my class. Adapting and putting my mind to something are two of my strong points that I know was influenced and strengthened by my time at sudbury. 

I've achieved a lot in the past few years and have overcame many obstacles  that have crossed my path that have helped sculpt me into who I am today a strong, caring, independent person who is excited for what the future brings me.

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