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Voices of the Nation's Future

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Photo ofTailauni Ashley

In the beginning of high school I was at a charter public school. I always felt like the teachers and staff only cared about the seniors, graduation rates, and what colleges the seniors were going to. The school year started off okay. I didn't really have a problem my freshman year, but during my sophomore year it was the complete opposite. 

There were so many new changes. We had new teachers and staff, new strict rules, and an entirely new way of doing a lot of things. I felt like I couldn't succeed there any longer. Teachers would give us a demerit for literally anything. If we moved without asking, that's a demerit. If we took over five minutes in the bathroom, that's a demerit. And they add up too -- if you got too many demerits you would get a detention -- or worse! I felt so uncomfortable. 

I was familiar with the school though, so I started to get afraid of how different things would be if I were to transfer. A whole new school, new staff, new classmates, new everything -- I thought I wasn't ready for all the changes. Even though I was nervous, I knew I needed to change schools for things to be better for me and my future. So, during the summer of 2019, my mom and I went down to the public school’s welcome center in Dudley to put in my transfer papers. We had to pick around six schools as our top choices, and I got placed at the Burke High School. 

My first day at the Burke was nothing like I imagined it would be. I thought it was going to be awkward, and I thought that people were going to be weird because I was a new student, but my first day wasn't like that at all. I was welcomed with open arms, and I even knew some of the students already. When I walked into the building, I was greeted by a whole bunch of teachers with a lot of excitement. We did ice breakers in each class so everyone could get to know each other, and it was nice because I met many cool people. 

The education I received at the Burke was nothing like the one at the school I was at before. The Burke teachers work with students until they understand the concepts --  whether it's during class, lunch, or after school. Everyone at the Burke allows you to be yourself and still get a good education. At the Burke, teachers really just want the best for you and your future, which is nothing like my old school. Well, at least not in my case. 

When you're in school daily for 7.5+ hours, you'd think it would be okay for you to be yourself. At my old school, I had to choose between being my authentic self or following their strict rules, which shouldn't have been a choice I had to make. I'm so glad that I transferred to the Burke because change isn't always a bad thing, and we shouldn't assume that it will be everytime. The fear of change is very nerve wracking and uneasy, but sometimes you have to push through it in order to succeed in life.

© Tailauni Ashley. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person's teacher.