In 2nd grade, my daughter Annalisa was diagnosed with ADD and Severe Anxiety (Panic Attacks). Throughout our time within the Diocese and San Diego Public school system, we put endless hours in helping Annalisa with her academic needs including hours of tutoring, very late nights of homework, constant battles with IEP meetings, and discouraging teachers conferences. Annalisa has always struggled academically. She knew she learned differently than her classmates & felt as if she didn’t fit in. She would get teased or bullied with cruel comments endlessly.
At the age of 15 my daughter Annalisa lost her Father to a severe illness. This was a tremendous adjustment and continuous emotional challenge. Her anxiety worsened and she would often shut down. Shortly after that, her report card was ‘F’s” in all her courses, and she had fallen further behind academically, and emotionally. I kept constant communication with her school so that we could work together to help Annalisa. After endless communication and teachers conferences, I was told Annalisa was “not putting any effort, she is not focused, she is not applying herself.” My daughter was never disruptive or caused any trouble at school, and I felt the school didn’t know how to address her needs. At that point, I knew it was time for a change. I took matters into my hands and became my Daughter’s Advocate.
I started to search for schools that specialized with students with IEPs, ADHD/ADD. and Emotional Behaviors. When I came across Excelsior Academy’s website, I immediately gave them a call and gave them a history of my child. They arranged a meeting with me and gave me a tour. I was so taken back by the staff and the students at Excelsior, and I felt I finally found a school that would provide the attention and academic needs my daughter needed. Excelsior arranged for my daughter to shadow a student for a couple of days. After the first day, my daughter could not stop talking about the school, the kids, the teachers, and the programs. She didn’t want to go back to her school and with the help of the IEP teams and Excelsior Academy, I was able to place my daughter at Excelsior.
Excelsior stepped right in and created an academic plan to help her with her emotional needs. I was so impressed with the entire school staff: every teacher is a Special Education teacher, along with Special Education counselors permanently on school site. The small class environment allowed my child to succeed in all her classes. I saw her transition before my eyes. She went from an “F” student to pulling up A’s & B’s. That was the first time in my daughter’s entire academic career. I saw my daughter happy, smile from ear to ear, develop self-esteem, and blossom into a wonderful, amazing young lady. Her Panic Attacks lessened, she became involved in the student body, and she was allowed to help run the student store. My daughter was allowed to express her artistic side, which resulted in some pretty amazing painting portraits. She also benefitted from the amazing transition program which helped her prepare her for life after graduation.
I have to say, my daughter was definitely set up for success thanks to Excelsior Academy. I owe a lot to the school, staff, and teachers. Excelsior has given my daughter the greatest gift a parent could ever ask for: a happy, healthy, productive, and successful young lady in society. No matter what disabilities a child might have, Excelsior makes sure every child is safe, nurtured, respected and meets their academic needs and helps them become a productive individual.
Annalisa is currently enrolled at Grossmont College where she plans to transfer to a 4-year university upon receiving her AA.