Last Friday, my eldest daughter graduated from high school. Despite a significant number of obstacles over the past three years, we are ecstatic that she was able to graduate “on time”. A year ago, even six months ago we were anticipating a January 2011 graduation. She was all smiles as they announced her name and reflections about her during the very personalized ceremony.
While not to diminish my daughter’s accomplishments, I was equally touched by the story of one of her classmates, Sonia LaForest. Sonia is a 52 year old immigrant from Haiti. One of a large number of siblings, left her home at at the age of 12. She worked, got married, and then became a parent of six children, all who are either in college or on track to go. Three years, ago, she mustered the courage to begin attending high school herself. On Friday night, she received her diploma as well. As reported in the June 16th issue of the Chicago Tribune,
LaForest registered and reported for her first day of class in September 2007. With the evening school based at Glenbrook South, LaForest walked the same hallways and took classes with many of the same educators who taught her children.
Teacher Scott Matthews watched LaForest’s enthusiasm set the tone for his math class. If students talked during a lesson, she asked them to quiet down. And if kids fooled around, she urged them to cut it out.
To end the evening, Sonia told everyone in the audience
“Everything you can have a chance to do for one time, you do it. You go for it.”
Sonia was a reminder that it is never too late to take a chance and learn something new. She will be my inspiration whenever I feel that I am too tired, busy, or stressed to think that I can fit one more thing into my brain. It will inspire me to push those I teach, both students and teachers, who feel that they are not able to learn one more new skill.
This was an inspiring evening and one which I was glad that I had a chance to experience.