The following was written by a very ambitious, highly motivated individual who wishes to remain anonymous.

After checking that the Scotch tape had sufficiently secured the paper to the refrigerator, I stepped back to admire my accomplishments. I scanned the perfectly aligned report cards and essay grades and felt a satisfying sense of achievement. I could feel my sister's eyes glaring at me from a few feet away. I know she thinks I'm bragging by plastering the refrigerator with my academic achievements, but to me, they mean so much more than a job well done. The wall of paper serves as a constant reminder of how far I have grown since I was classified as a Special Education student.

It was only first grade, how different could I be from everyone else? Everything seemed fine to me, until I was brought to a meeting with my teacher and my parents for an unexpected agenda. At the meeting, they told me that I was going to repeat the first grade. Expecting tears, my teacher and my parents were shocked to see my eyes light up with the thought of watching baby chicks hatch one more time. At first, I even considered myself lucky to be the only one of my friends who was able to experience playing the role of both a Native American and a Pilgrim at Thanksgiving dinner. My perception of myself as lucky changed for me in the third grade when, as I read to my kindergarten partner during story time, she became impatient with my disfluent reading and began to correct my speech. It was then that I knew I was different.

As I continued to find school frustrating, my teachers' concerns grew, ultimately resulting in an education evaluation. While other students my age view such an experience negatively, I felt fortunate that someone was finally going to validate and explain my learning issues. My challenges were confirmed as the testing revealed a learning disability resulting in below average skills.

Unlike many of my peers in Special Education, I grew to accept my weaknesses at an early age. While many of my friends spent their summers at sleep-away camps, I was enrolled in a reading camp and took on extra schoolwork during my summers. While others were reluctant to enter the resource room fearing embarrassment, I was eager to embrace the support and utilize the skills that would unlock a world of knowledge. I began to feel proud of my success in the special education program, and used that feeling of accomplishment to push myself even further. Employing all the strategies I had learned over the years, I focused on compensating for my weaknesses by capitalizing on my strengths. As a result of my success in the special education program, I was declassified in the eighth grade. While I had some fears of entering high school without extra support, I knew the work ethic I had developed would continue to grow and get stronger as I became more confident in my abilities. After overcoming my greatest challenge, I now know that I can accomplish any task, no matter how great. The proof? It's right there on the refrigerator.